Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Restaurant 58: L&B Spumoni Gardens (Infinite Feast XXII)

RESTAURANT: L&B Spumoni Gardens
LOCATION: 2725 86th St., Brooklyn
DATE: July 23, 2005
FOOD: Sicilian Slice; Two Round Slices with Sausage and Mushrooms; Large Cone with Rainbow Spumoni; Large Cup with Peach, Vanilla Chip, and Pineapple Sorbet.
PRICE: $10.00

Once upon a time in a city very much like New York, a young man set out on an adventure. Now this young man was not unlike other men his age. In fact, upon meeting him, he probably would not have made all the much of an impression. But regardless of this personality innocuousness, it is this young man that our story concerns.

The young man had traveled all over the city very much like New York searching for the best pizza. He had embarked on a Pizza World Tour, stuffing himself with pizzas from all five boroughs. He had tasted more refined versions of pizza at Una Pizza and Otto. And yet, like all adventurers, he was still unsatisfied. He wanted to try more.

Thus, when he heard of a restaurant in a place not unlike Brooklyn heralded for its Sicilian slices, he decided to journey to the distant land to experience a slice for himself. But the journey was filled with unexpected perils. An express train suddenly ran local. His stomach, inexplicitly, caused him great pains. The moderately warm temperature induced shvitzing all over his body. At certain points, the young man wondered whether he was really cut out for such a quest.

But he persevered. Finally, he arrived at his destination. In the place not unlike Brooklyn, in a locale not at all dissimilar from Bensonhurt, L&B Spumoni Gardens had thrived as an authentic neighborhood Italian restaurant since its founding in 1939. The young man was overwhelmed with excitement and soon forgot the obstacles he had faced during his trek. L&B was large and impressive, three eateries in one, with a take out pizza counter, ice cream stand and sit-down restaurant existing together harmoniously. An muted red awning distinguished L&B from its surroundings.

The young man had traveled with a friend and they decided to eat indoors. The restaurant was filled with boisterous parties of people young and old. Many seemed to be regulars. Many seemed to have had too much pizza in their lives. Their chairs seem to sag beneath them. But, with nary a glance at the rest of the clientele or menu, the young man ordered a Sicilian slice and a round slice, come what may.

The pizza came quickly. The Sicilian looked delicious. He snapped a quick picture to commemorate the meal and then immediately sank his teeth into the slice. Utopia? Revelry?

No. Neither. The slice was good, certainly. But legendary? Definitely not. While the thick, French bread like crust had a rewarding crunch, the sauce and cheese on top was soupy and insipid. It was like meeting the young man for the first time – nothing stood out.

But perhaps the round slice would be better? Before the young man had even take a bite, he was already doubting the prospect. For though he had ordered a sausage and mushroom slice, what he say in front of him, unbelievably in a day and age of near universal fresh produce usage, were (oh the words are hard to even write)…CANNED MUSHROOMS! Salty and limp, they detracted from an otherwise quality slice. The Italian sausage did nothing to help the cause, as boring and lifeless as reading about the young man. The round slice would have been better without the toppings, but he was already full. There was no time left to test his hypothesis.

Fortunately, he consoled himself with dessert. The rainbow spumoni was packed with intense flavors. His favorite was the pistachio, the real nuts added texture to the smoothness of the icy cream. He followed the spumoni with a commendable mix of sorbets. The peach tasted, get this, just like a fresh peach. But he really loved the vanilla chip, chocolate and vanilla not having gone together so well since the invention of the black and white cookie.

All in all then, our young man’s quest had not been in vain. While he might not have found the pizza he was looking for, no adventure is ever worthless. He had learned something about himself, though he had no idea what it was. He boarded a train (again running local) and headed back to the borough not unlike Manhattan from which he had begun, tired, but ready start out again, the next time some food exploring beckoned.

RATING: 6.3/10

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