Dinner and a movie always turns out to be a challenging concept for Chef and me. Not that we don’t like the idea. It’s just that the decisions involved become tortured. First, there’s the issue of bed bug infested movie theatres. Chef has to be convinced the movie will deliver in a way that overcomes his fear of the critters. Even then, he will only go to cinemas that he chooses to believe have not been attacked by the bloodsuckers. Add on my own geographic imposed limitations—the theatre should be on the West Side for easy subway access back to WaHi, as well as my long-standing distaste for the Angelika, and pretty much we only see movies at Chelsea Clearview Cinemas. Believe me, we have this same discussion almost every weekend.
Once the location is settled (again), the dinner part of the bargain gets debated. For the most part, neither one of us are fans of the mediocre establishments that seem to draw in the gay boys up and down 8th Avenue. So a few months back when we passed a new glowing golden establishment, Chef lit up at the name on the awning.
“No way. The class act behind Anthos and Mia Dona? Please, the boys down here are more interested in cocktails,” I said dismissively.
“I kind of think it is hers.”
“Trust me, I would have read about it!”
I pulled out my iPhone and within a few seconds I settled the argument in Chef’s favor. How had I missed this?
So after last week’s screening of The Fighter, we “fought” our way to Donatella for what I hoped might become our after movie spot.
The setting is golden—literally. The seating and walls are all shades of gold, set off by the brick oven pizza in the back that looks like it might have been carved out of a discarded disco ball. The striking light fixtures overhead made from mason jars infuse even more glittering light into the space. Barbra Streisand and Oprah would feel right at home. If the setting wasn’t enough to draw in the boys to show off their tans, the cocktail menu should be as it features a “punch bowl” for sharing with close friends.
The starters we chose were reasonable, not earth shattering. The rocket salad with grilled zucchini and ricotta salata had a bit too much oil for my taste. The potato and mozzarella croquette was huge, not greasy and came with a spicy red sauce for dipping.
But the real star here is supposed to be the pizzas coming out of the disco oven. We ordered the Donatella with tomatoes, arugula and basil. The menu claims, “our pizza is cooked in a 700 degree wood burning oven to create a pizza that is both soft in the middle and crispy on the ends.” Surprisingly for a restaurant that wasn’t busy, our pizza arrived slightly cold—what was that about 700 degrees?—and contrary to claims, it was soft all over, not crispy on the ends, and a bit soggy in parts. There was generous heaping of arugula and basil, and overall I didn’t hate it.
Still, I wasn’t convinced I’d found après movie Chelsea dinner spot. But when I return from the Caribbean in a few weeks, it might be a fun place to reminisce over a glass of rum punch while I show off my golden tan.