Lunch Break: Torrisi

After attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, cooking in New York restaurants, and working at a test kitchen, Anya Wareck is now Edible Manhattan’s Editorial Assistant–living in Brooklyn. Anya hopes to eat and write her way across New York (or as much of it as she can).

One objective of food writing is to help readers refine their options. Refine while making reservations, refine while ordering at a sandwich counter—all areas of food (and drink) demand refinement in a place like New York City. Most readers don’t have meals to waste. Writers, on the other hand, do have meals to waste, and it’s our duty to cheat on neighborhood staples, order to compare and contrast, retry restaurants as they expand, and face the scene-iest dining rooms in the city. Any time I’m assigned to a piece of food writing, each article really comes down to my takeaways—potentially boring but faithfully thorough—of the places in New York that sell food. I’ll eat almost anything, so keep that in mind as you read. Also, I’m young and feel entitled to the best things about the city since moving here six months ago.

Going out in the city feels imperative as a young person. Young people typically have the least money and free time, but the most resilience to restaurant food and the next party. We absorb the ironic presumption, from elders, that fresh graduates are no longer children and should know better than to spend irresponsibly (“but don’t forget to enjoy your twenties—you’ll never be this young again”). As a young person, I wonder if writing about the places I go to eat and spend money will loosen some of the ethics I’ve internalized. I also wonder if it will provoke unwanted dissociation while I sit with a group of friends at the hottest new speakeasy in Manhattan—especially because I feel embarrassed with a camera in a restaurant.

Last week, I faced my first meal-job at Torrisi in downtown Manhattan with a friend I hadn’t seen in too long. I made the reservation a month prior for 1:30 PM, lunch on a Monday (only time I could get). My friend is more familiar with the unrefined luxury of the restaurant’s dining room—I’m usually dragging her to hole-in-the-wall grease mills with no seating—so I felt a little bit royal walking to our velvet booth. We shared the Dressed Endives, Tuna with Pickled Caponata, Tortellini Pomodoro, and Affogato (if you can call coffee granita layered on top of fudge, layered on top of ice cream an affogato). Don’t get me wrong—all of it was great. Especially the tortellini pomodoro. I would go back for it with a haute cuisine skeptic.

The best part of the meal, in my humble opinion, was its length. Food is great but quality time is better, and between the perfect coursing, palate cleansing sorbet, and post-dessert assorted cookies, we shared more than just the upscale Italian spread. I find a sit down weekday lunch especially indulgent, but there are pros—you can still hear before 5PM. A young couple sat next to us and polished off four entrees—it seemed like they’d been waiting for this lunch, with the intent to do nothing but enjoy each other privately (weekday lunch feels exquisitely private). Torrisi is expensive and it doesn’t pretend otherwise, but the experience makes up a worthy portion of the bill. Restaurants with suitors pursuing reservations left and right have the power to do anything as long as they deliver hot food and hot service. Funds and free time aside, this will not be my last weekday lunch.

Photos courtesy of the author