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May 6, 2000 10:01 AM

Is this a unique and interesting question?

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My wife and I live in California. Her sister and brother-in-law are Upper East Side types, impossible to buy presents for. We like to send them out to dinner as a present. We like to pick somewhere they havn't been before and are unlikely to find or go to on their own, but still within their capacity to enjoy.

The Syrian restaurants on Atlantic Ave. in Brooklym that I used to love growing up would be *way* too much of a stretch. So would Eritrean food, which we are salivating over in Moira's column. Nor are they whimsical enough to appreciate the rediscovery of Horn & Hardart's beef pot pie, if such a thing were possible.

This year's choice had been Rao's. It was a perfect choice. First, reputedly excellent food. Second, a location that ensures they would not go on their own. Third, exclusivity. Fourth, a wide enough reputation so that *some* in their circle will surely have heard of it. And fifth, snob appeal - a list of patrons of the first water. Unfortunately, it will have to be considered as *next* year's choice, since it is booked a year in advance.

And now, here we are, with no second choice to even come close. I've picked Il Mulino, Babba, and Picholine off an admittedly cursory survey of this board. That is not indicative of a bias toward Italian in this selection, quite the opposite. Those three seemed the best suited to the task of the recent reccomendations. My apologies for the once over lightly, but stuff older than six months makes me nervous.

Does anyone care to take a crack at this? Thanks in advance to all who trouble to reply.

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    stephen kaye

    #1- yours is a "normal" question. #2- I would recommend piccola venezia, in astoria queens, 5 min from laguardia airport. food is great, crowd is out of a scorcese movie, but real. the snob appeal gig, is way tired and played out here in nyc. even an upper east sider(which I was for 10 years), is way behind the times. if snob appeal is high on their list, it just isn't " cool" in nyc . try piccola venezia, you won't regret it.- its the reaL deal

    3 Replies
    1. re: stephen kaye

      IN addition to the dinner at Piccolo Venezia, why not hire a limo to handle the "snob appeal". Plus you can arrange the the restaurant will serve the couple an Allegrini Amarone'95 to go with their meal, assuming that the "secondi" will be a meat.

      1. re: Peter
        stephen kaye

        I certaily agree w/you Peter. also plz note, Piccoa venezia has one of the largest italan wine lists in nyc

      2. re: stephen kaye


        Thanks for the recommendation. I wasn't being snotty with my subject, as Jim picked up on, quite the opposite. I wanted to let people know that I thought about the question before posting so as not to get flamed all over the place.

        I did a search on Piccola Venezia, and it looks to be just the thing. The big price will do what I was referring to when I said "snob appeal", allow them permission to enjoy the food. These are not people who would appreciate the exact same food if they paid $3 a plate for it off a cart, if you know what I mean.

        It looks like getting the best out of this takes some study, so I ordered the book, and we will send it as part of the present, assuming my wife feels as I do about it. If you or any lurkers would care to contribute any additional advice, I will recieve it with respect and thanks. The fact that one needs to be "in the know" to get the best here will make the present more valuable, assuming that they "get it". They will be able to amaze their friends.

        Assuming you and/or others are interested, I will stop by with a report on whether it is successful or not. Thanks to you and Jim and Peter for the replies.

      3. "Unique and interesting" is nice but is hardly a requirement for message posters. We're not trying to terrify new people here!

        But we DO try to discourage those who've recently blown onto the site from asking mind-bendingly general questions ("Where's good to eat in San Francisco?"), or questions that are kind of dull and have been asked--and answered--dozens of times ("any good brunches in midtown?").

        Anybody who's read thru these boards a little bit and has a general "feel" for the site can trust their own intuition in deciding what's fit to post.

        And when in doubt, you'll find that phrasing your question interestingly and, most important, offering info re: places you've already tried ("I'm looking for egg creams in Detroit...Maxim's too chocolatey, Dave's asked me which FLAVOR I wanted and I walked right out, and Ed's is good but too expensive....any other ideas???") can increase your odds of starting an engaging and informative thread.