It's the big night at Tony's, game seven in the World Series of Relationships: Valentine's Day at the city's swankest restaurant. For the men here, what happens in the next few hours will not only dictate whether or not nookie is in the cards for later, but also the quality and quantity of said nookie. Love is involved, as is money. Food, too, and wine, and romance.
The men are wearing their game faces, concentrating on a sincere smile and quality compliments. Remember: eye contact. "Is that new lipstick? It looks fantastic." Your date is the only woman in the world tonight. "That perfume? The way it mingles with the Pouilly-Fuissé! Delicious!" Remember: concentrate. No distractions. When that hottie in the low-cut sweater walks by, do not look at her cleavage. Don't look at her at all. It's not worth it, even though it's probably worth it. You will be caught, and for what? A little fantasy? Look away. Take a sip from the white Burgundy, as deep and complex as a forbidden bosom.
You've heard it before, but it really is true: Dining at Tony's is a singular experience. Roll up in a Ford Festiva, and the valet greets you as though it's a vintage Rolls. Doors swing open like you're the Italian ambassador. The maître d' seems like he's been awaiting your arrival since Thanksgiving.
We made this reservation nearly two months ago and were quite excited to spend a truckload of money and do Tony's up right. We wanted to experience upper-crust Italian cuisine while sipping fine wine. In short, we wanted to see what all the hoo-ha was about. We succeeded, and enjoyed crushed grapes three ways: a little Champagne on the front, a nice Burgundy in the middle and a snifter of Italian brandy at the end.
Specifically, we had a kir royale to start, a blend of créme de cassis and Billecart-Salmon Champagne. Many bartenders overdo it with the cassis, which ruins the Champagne. Tony's, of course, did it right: just a pinky's worth of cassis, which transformed the straw-colored Champagne into a soft, light lavender. A twist of lemon essence added another layer.
To go with our exquisite lobster Albanello (chunks of meat smothered in a luxurious mushroom cream sauce), Vince Bommarito Jr. recommended the perfect wine: a 2003 Roger Lassarat Pouilly-Fuissé a white Burgundy sturdy enough to tangle with the cream sauce, delicate enough to enjoy with our beautiful date's sea bass. The Pouilly-Fuissé, which is grown in the Mâconnais district of Burgundy, is by definition made from the chardonnay grape, and had hints of spiced apple and a little lemon.
Dessert was accompanied by a Vecchia Romagna fifteen-year Italian brandy, which, truth be told, came and went without much of an impact. It slid down the throat with that luxurious nuttiness and was lighter than we expected. But our minds were headed elsewhere by that point. We had made it through dinner with nary a faux pas. The conversation was smooth and easy; we successfully conveyed our absolute and sincere adoration and devotion. As a little insurance, on the ride back to our place we switched the radio to Foxy 95. A smooth night at Tony's is the perfect aphrodisiac, for sure, but there's nothing like a little quiet-storm R&B to drive the point home.