Thursday, August 4, 2016

Diasporic Dining XXXXIII: A Comparison Between Bouley and Lunetta

photo of slice of Lunetta pizza by Francis Levy
A comparison is in order between the atmosphere in Bouley a famous French restaurant in Tribeca, which will soon be closing its doors, and Lunetta, a chain of pizzerias which operates a store on the corner of 20th and Third. As might be expected you are greeted at the door of Bouley not by one but three different greeters. There is no one to greet you at the door of Lunetta—though there are some that might find that to be an improvement since it means you can sit where you want and don’t have to engage in a discussion about why you’re not happy with the table you're given (which is the inevitable state of affairs in tony French places which cater to hoi polloi). You will undoubtedly remark on the décor of Bouley which while being elegant and even opulent in terms of the upholstery, still conveys the feeling of countryside simplicity (note the apples covering the walls in the entranceway). At Bouley you are quickly triaged by a sommelier, bread man, and server who will offer you a buffet of possibilities. At Lunetta you will have to walk up to the counter and study the kinds of pizza sitting in pans. You will also be able to read the overhead menu which lists cold subs, hot subs, hot plates and appetizers like wings. Yum. You will then place your order and find your own cozy spot, with nigh a thought about who is sitting where or why. You will  be oblivious to others since the smell of the pizza will have already produced its aphrodisiac effect on you making you ravenously hungry, while by contrast, from an olfactory point of view you, will find the room purged of smells when you dine at Bouley. There are no groaning roasts, or piping hot chafing dishes on display there. From the point of view of smell Bouley is as antiseptic as an operating room and beginning  your meal bears comparison to going into surgery considering all the orderlies and assistants involved in bringing your meal to the table. And then when it’s finally time for consummation one has to decide which was the experience that most delighted the senses. How does eating a $2.50 slice of bubbling hot pizza served on a tray with plastic silverware and paper napkins stack up to a three course prix fixe meal for $125, served on dishes too numerous to remember? Can you really claim that you enjoyed your elegant French meal more than you did being left alone to wolf down your slice with its  crunchy crust and melted cheese?

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