My evening at Fresco by Scotto restaurant began with a quick drink at the bar. While waiting for my dining companions to arrive, I smiled and listened to the four suit-clad men beside me engaged in cocktails and convivial conversation.
In the space of less than ten minutes, the men had moved swiftly across several subjects -- including salary bonuses, politics and dogfighting. Topics of a different sort characterized the dialogue that unfolded over dinner between me, my good friend Cindy and two longtime friends of hers.
With the dreamy Dali-esque paintings of artist Gregory Drasler surrounding us, talk moved swiftly from Fresco's pricey menu (about $75 per person) to questions about relationships. Should a groom's nuptial toast to his bride be breathlessly romantic or humorously anecdotal? To date or not to date right after a breakup? And just how attracted do you need to be to go out with someone more than once?
"I like him well enough," said one of Cindy's friends, adding that her new guy's lack of height prohibits her from feeling any more than that.
Cindy's other friend seemed unsure what to feel about her recent entre into the social networking universe, where she's encountered more than one old flame. Sometimes even cyberspace can be an unnervingly small world.
All of this girl talk took place between bites of truly delectable Italian fare. My palette was pleased by each of the following menu selections--tuna tartar with avocado, vegetarian pennette in a tomato sauce with mozzarella cheese, and the most divine banana pudding with vanilla wafers, butterscotch sauce and whipped cream. The pudding was so heavenly that it has claimed the fifth spot in my personal pantheon of all-time favorite desserts. Here are the other Top 4:
4. Chocolate mousse at Vivolo's in Midtown. Light yet sinfully rich and satisfying, garnished with a dollop of whipped cream and a strawberry.
3. Key lime pie at Cedar's, Foxwoods, Connecticut. Memorable as much for the slice's gargantuan size as for being the perfect blend of tart and sweet.
2. Chocolate ice cream sundae at T-Bar on the Upper East Side. In two words--pure decadence.
And the most memorable dessert of all time, reigning supreme after more than 15 years...
1. TiramiSu, The Savoy Hotel, Zurich. Literally meaning "pick me up" in Italian, this slice of heaven was introduced to me by a charming maitre'd who spoke five languages fluently. Though I said I had no room for dessert, he insisted I try the TiramiSu. I ended up ordering a second serving and thus, an enduring love affair was born.
Men may come and go, but the pleasure of a good dessert lingers forever!