North Italia has taken over the space on Restaurant Row that has long been vacant after a fairly short residency by J. Alexander’s, a Hillstone-like restaurant that failed to make a go of it.
North Italia should do just fine there, if what I observed during my visit is any indication. The place was bustling and full with a largely young crowd enjoying the darkly moody atmosphere, finely crafted food and surprisingly good service.
I want to start with the latter because the quality of service has been a sore spot lately as so many restaurants are dealing with staffing shortages. There were service blips, to be sure, the sorts of things one expects from a new operation. What I found encouraging was how deftly those blips were dealt with and corrected. And I was even more impressed after finding that it was the first day on the job for our server. She showed that she had undergone proper training, and that is promising for the future of dining.
Entering Ten Ten Chinese Seafood & Grill, you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve wandered into a wedding banquet instead of a restaurant. All of the tables are big and round, seating eight, and are draped with gold-tinged fabrics. The chairs, too, are wrapped in the same fabric and tied with a bow at the back, the type of feature that would be a separate line item on a caterers checklist.
But no, it’s just the style of Chinese dining Ten Ten presents, and you’re welcome to sit at the large table even if there are only two of you. You could even sit across from each other and pass food via the lazy Susan in the center.
Ten Ten is a second location for a Sunrise, Fla., restaurant. The Orlando restaurant is on the west side, where so many of the authentic Chinese restaurants have settled but, for a change, it is not in the repurposed strip mall known as Orlando Chinatown.
Visit Orlando presented a check to two local charities with the proceeds raised through this year’s Magical Dining promotion. The organizations, Pathlight Home and iDignity, two local charities that deal with homelessness and providing essential services, will share $289,291, representing one dollar for every Magical Dining meal sold by participating restaurants. (Apparently, one person dined solo.)
NEW YORK – Restaurants and bars, at least the ones that have reopened, are packed here. If there ever was a policy to keep tables and patrons six feet apart it has been dispensed with. In bistros and brasseries like Balthazar and deli cafes like Katz’s, people are seated elbow to elbow.
One new policy put into place by governor decree has made this possible: To enter a restaurant, bar or even a Broadway theater, customers must present proof of vaccination along with a photo I.D. to match the name on the health card. It’s seamless and it adds a layer of protection to the customers and the staff (who for the most part keep masks on at all times) and gives a sense of safety and security.
This doesn’t mean that unvaccinated people can’t dine out, but they must do it in the literal sense – at a sidewalk table or in one of the dining huts that have been set up by the restaurants.