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May 10, 2010 - by Richard Jay Scholem
Vince and Eddies is my kind of restaurant -- and if you’re like most Americans it’s yours, too. It’s a father-and-son operation that serves superior versions of familiar American comfort food with some Italian spins. If the likes of rack of lamb, rib eye steak, pork chop, meat loaf, duckling and beef stew appeal to you, so will Vince and Eddies. Desserts like berry cobbler, homemade ice creams and sorbets, ginger cake and warm apple pie keep the beat going.
Although there is no Vince or Eddie, there is a Peter Digiuseppi and his son, Eric. Peter is the kitchen commander while Eric watches over the front of the house. Peter has been Executive Chef since its 1989 opening, when a Laundromat near Lincoln Center was converted into the warm, convivial restaurant it is today. His affable, eager-to-please, 20-something son Eric signed on more recently.
Vince and Eddies’ longevity is no fluke. There aren’t all that many 21-year-old restaurants in Manhattan. It’s a rough, tough, competitive, volatile venue. More fail than succeed. There are reasons for this restaurant’s long run: First, it looks good and feels warm and welcoming. Diners enter through a narrow, cozy bar, a quaint nook that exudes conviviality. They are then escorted to one of three rooms with crisp, white cloth-covered tables. Two of them -- the red and green rooms -- are comfortable and carpeted with soothing art on the walls. The third, the charming atrium garden, is a place of brick and glass with a greenhouse-like ceiling that opens during the warm-weather months. The second of the restaurant’s virtues is its staff -- down-to-earth, nice folks who do their best to watch over every diner and table without being intrusive. They seem to have a knack of anticipating diner’s needs. Finally, and most importantly, there is the no-nonsense food. No, it’s not fancy, frou-frou, trendy fare -- but it’s packed with robust flavor.
Crab cakes come perched on a tasty bed of corn and salsa; the rack of lamb, done to a medium rare turn, is a heavy-duty, Colorado-raised pleasure; the Tilapia is given a boost by its Parmesan crust. The tender, 16- to 18-ounce rib eye steak is on the level of a prime steakhouse; that warm apple pie sports a thin crust of pecans and peanuts; and the fresh berry cobbler is a marvelous meld of blueberries, strawberries, shortbread, real whipped cream, brown sugar and warm berry compote.
All those desserts are made in-house, as is some of the city’s best ice cream. Try the creamy, fudgy chocolate and the slightly yellow vanilla (indicating the use of real vanilla beans not artificial flavoring.)
70 W. 68th St. (Columbus Ave.), 212-721-0068; www.vinceandeddiesnewyork.com
Richard Jay Scholem was a restaurant critic for the New York Times Long Island Section for 14 years. His A La Carte Column appeared from 1990 to 2004. For more “Taste of the Town” reviews, click here.
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