Odeon-still great!Other place-not so great.
A friend was visiting me from Orlando, her first comment to me as we walked into Gertel's for chocolate ruglach, Guss' for pickles and the Italian Food Center for an "Italian Food Center Special" Sandwich was "GOSH, I really miss REAL food"! (Almost every restaurant in her area -except BBQ's- are themed-restaurants!)
ANYWAY, we went to the Odeon for dinner last night, had a great meal, they have the most varied menu -- sandwiches, seared tuna, pasta and the greatest simple goat cheese salad w/ pignoli nuts. And I love the "only in NY" atmosphere.
Afterwards, my friend asked that we go to a place with super fancy-doodle desserts. The kind that she's "seen in the magazines". I chose a popular, hip-o-rama North African-Moroccan place that is well known nearby. Unfortunatly, the desserts were pre-fab and flawed. A galactoboureko had a heavy sour tasting cream filling that was just plain bad. My Citron Tarte had a merengue
(sp?) on top that was definitetly a day or two old. A Coffee Ice Cream sandwich showed no creativity in it's presentation. It was our only culinary dissapointment during her stay. Let's hope better eating lies ahead!
She is lucky to have a friend like you with such good taste. I have been a huge fan of the Italian Food Center for years. In my opinion, it has the best sandwiches in the city. And if you want to see real mobsters, forget Sparks. Just watch the good fellas cut the line at the IFC and get a Grand Street Special on the house.
As for the Odeon, it rocks. When you really want a great burger, steak frites or country salad and a serious cocktail, this is the place to go. And the later the better. I have been celebrating New Year's at the Odeon for the last 3 years. It is still the 80's at the Odeon.
When I go to the Odeon I stick to the basics too but you're right Alex, the burger is great and again, I'd recc. the goat cheese salad or their seared tuna sandwich.
By the way, when ever I want to round up a group for dinner and know that a least a couple of people in the group can only really afford something under ten bucks, I always pick the Odeon. It has something for everyone at every price point and, they serve sandwiches at night, yum! I always find their staff extremely efficient and that vibe makes everyone feel like a star!
What is the chowhound consensus on Italian Food Center?
Growing up in NYC I always believed that Little Italy
was for tourists only (in part this is a reflection of
my youth, by the time I came on the scene the Italians
had moved out from all but the ground-floors). Then on
advice (maybe from this board?) I went to Italian Food
Center one day to buy a sandwich for lunch. I chose
the simplest combination; I think it was semolina
bread, sliced provolone, sundried tomatoes and
proscuitto. Instead of quality what I received was
enormous quantity. THe tomatoes were scooped from an
pickle jar with a ladle and spread, along with 5
tablespoons of olive oil, onto the standard seeded
baguette. The provolone and proscuitto were piled on
as thick as the top knuckle on my thumb. At first bite
the sandwich was so salty I could barely swallow it. I
took out half the fillings from one half of the
sandwich, ate that half and sold the other half to my
boss. My preference with sandwiches is that a high
bread to filling ratio be maintained and that expense
go to quality ingredients over quanitity.
I'm strongly in the pro-Italian-Food-Center camp, and
mildly in the anti-Odeon camp.
I hear about the occasional negative experience at the
Italian Food Center, but it's been top-notch every
time I've visited. Your description of the sandwich
sounds accurate, but I interpret all those things as
good. Certainly, in New York, there's no shame in an
overstuffed sandwich. And I like all that salt. The
Italian Food Center is, incidentally, one of the few
places in Little Italy that I like--most Little Italy
places are, indeed, tourist traps.
I like the ambience at Odeon, but the food is pretty
standard as far as I'm concerned. I've had too many
mediocre items at Odeon to be able to call it a great
re: Steven Shaw
I wouldn't go to the Odeon and order anything but the basics. It is simple place and thus I would order accordingly. I know that they have a wide-ranging menu, with the likes of seafood risotto and chilean sea bass in a whatever emullsion. I have never been inclined to order any of these items, they just seem contra to everything the Odeon is all about. Keep it simple and you will be happy.