So I’ve got this bad new habit.
This bad, bad new habit.
Called going out to dinner alone.
And drafting blog entries while I do it.
I don’t mean just-me-in-this-café-with-a-sandwich-and-my-laptop alone. I’m talking full-blown, table-for-one-please sit-down dining, with a menu and a waitstaff and a bill that makes me cringe. Like a proper, empowered adult. I began doing Hump Day dinner dates with myself a few weeks ago, and the ritual has since entered the canon. Since everything I do requires a twee nickname, I’ve entitled them Hump Dates. How empowered and adult of me.
Being alone in public places is one of my favorite pastimes. I consider myself a “faux extrovert”—I’m not at all shy, and I find people fascinating, but I also find them exhausting. I treasure recreational alone time. Conversation can add dimension to a meal, but if I’m craving one without the other, I would consider it an insult to drag someone else along as a prop. If I ask you to hang out, you’d better believe that I really want to see you. Quality time with quality food satisfies a different desire. Should I get lonely, I can always flirt with the waiter.
The problem with dining solo? Limited sampling capability. Given the number of prospects on my Oops I Ate New York spreadsheet, repeat visits are a rarity—and while I’m not above ordering two meals (hello, eggs Norwegian and bourbon hazelnut waffles at my birthday brunch), neither my wallet nor my digestive system can handle that kind of decadence on a regular basis. The first time I visited Motorino, I agonized over what to order. The celebrated brussels sprout and pancetta pie? A weightier-sounding concoction topped with mushrooms, sweet sausage, olives, and thyme? In the end, I went with a classic Margherita. I needed a basis for comparison. If Motorino couldn’t deliver a good Marg in the heart of tomato and basil season, I wouldn’t risk my hard-earned dining out dollars on more unorthodox combinations.
Spoiler: They delivered. (Figuratively. I live ten blocks north of their delivery zone. Which is probably for the best.)
I’m an equal opportunity pizza eater, but Motorino has given me a new appreciation for the Neapolitan style—a blistered, pillowy crust with a decidedly soggy center. This is pizza you eat with a knife and fork, working your way from the inside out until all that remains is a pile of pizza bones. Crust has never offended me, but this one is good enough to be considered a reward for eating the rest—so chewy that it stretches when you tear at it with your teeth; so fragrant that its defiant, yeasty smell can’t be muffled by layers of garlic and mozzarella. I’d eat it plain, served alongside a trio of dipping sauces: artichoke and marinara for dinner, gianduja for dessert. Management, take note.
I’m turned on.
Needless to say, I’ve since made it back to Motorino, this time opting for a downright experimental clam pie. Seafood and pizza may sound like strange bedfellows, but the combination of creamy fior di latte, fresh garlic, and parsley butter renders any fishiness incidental. The gustatory profile is closer to a garlic bread, albeit one enjoyed on the waterfront—if not for the textural contrast of the clams themselves, you might be content to believe that their faint, briny flavor was imagined. I loved this pizza, and I loved mopping up the remaining puddles of garlic butter with those perfect pizza bones even more.
So light, yet so absorbent! It’s pizza voodoo! I don’t hate it.
I did not love waking up in sea of clammy crumbs after polishing off the other half in bed at 1am. There’s a reason artisan pizza and midnight munchies don’t mix. I wonder how brussels sprouts do between the sheets?
Motorino. 349 E 12th St (12th & 1st). 212.777.2644.