Pronto Cena in Jersey City
The commute from Astoria has become annoying enough that I've decided to take my boss up on his offer to let me telecommute; while I'm still in Jersey City, however, I'm trying to sample as many places as possible. Today it was lunch at Pronto Cena on Sussex St., and I can heartily recommend the place to anyone who's willing to drop $26 or so on lunch. The piselli soup was excellent, the tiny bits of pancetta bringing out the pea flavor without overwhelming it and the texture neither too thick nor too soupy. A fellow in a colorful shirt (who turned out to be the owner, Charles Moschini) came over to me, took the bowl when I was done, and discussed the soup with me -- obviously a hands-on type! I don't ordinarily order pastas with cream sauces for the same reason I don't order veal francese -- it's usually not done well -- but I was impressed enough with the place that I tried the rigatoni strascicati and was very pleased: the sauce was rich but not at all gloppy, the rigatoni were actually al dente (!) and the bits of veal sausage delicious. The house Chianti was not bad at all, although I forgot to ask who made it.
By the way, if anyone knows of killer veal francese (preferably in Manhattan or Queens), please let me know -- I used to get it at the late lamented Leon's in New Haven all the time, little realizing how spoiled I was. (I was innocent enough in those days that I asked my Italian roommate, who brought me there, how come all those expensive cars were parked out on the street in such a bad neighborhood? He laughed heartily and said "Don't worry -- nobody's gonna touch *those* cars...")