229 Columbus Ave
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 721-3009
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Family Friendly
Area: West 70s
Spang in the heart of the Upper West Side, convenient to Lincoln Center and at least two movie houses including the wonderful Lincoln Center Plaza, Pomodoro Rosso may have been touted on Seinfeld as a great spot for breakups but no one is leaving here anytime soon. It's a classical, mamma-cooks, red-sauce Italian that's been pulling in crowds since1993 and shows no signs of slacking. The room doesn't appear so large at first blush but it's big, extending rearwards; in front, there is a large mural of a Tuscan town on one wall with decorative ceramics scattered on others. Red-and-white checked tablecloths add to the homey feel as does the basket of foccocia accompanied by rosemary-flecked olive oil and a smattering of olives that arrives as you order.
There is a cocktail menu and wine list, both with the usual suspects, ample for a place that sees more that a fair share of families.
My starter artichoke was served whole, stem up, nicely cooked so that the leaves pulled off easily for dipping into a white wine/lemon sauce. The eggplant app wore a blanket of tomato sauce with a home-made taste but you could also begin your meal with bruscetta, baked clams, friend calamari or mozzarella and zucchini sticks and be perfectly happy if not even slightly surprised.
The pasta line-up is large and includes both dry and "fresh" types, among them, several non-standards like penne emboldened with a touch of grappa along with peas and prosciutto and gemeli al gardino, a spiral pasta that takes its name from the Italian word for twins although the tubes aren't wound around one another but made as one piece. Sundried tomatoes, broccoli and portabellas are mixed into the gemeli for a nice touch. Shrimp here can be a little overcooked so fish fanatics may fare better with the sole, Zuppa di Pesce or the daily fish special.
If the carnivore inside you begs to be released, the kitchen sends out vitello al Vinsanto, a scaloppini preparation enriched with the eponymous wine as well as a large, juicy grilled veal chop and other meat and chicken offerings.
For those who can't end a meal without dessert, I'd pass on the tired "apples in pastry" that tastes like cardboard that no amount of whipped or ice cream can assuage and head for the sorbets, cannoli or cheesecake.
Service is pleasantly attentive but not overbearing and if you pick a slightly off-time to eat --say dinner earlier than seven p.m.-- the noise level is more than manageable. If you want to eat in a particular time slot, it's a good idea to make a reservation at this popular spot. Pomodoro does delivery and serves lunch, brunch on Sundays and dinner every day until 11 PM except on Sundays when the kitchen closes at 10. In nice weather, the outdoor space is highly sought-after and fun if seeing and been seen by the Columbus Avenue crowd is your thing. Come, stay, mangia.
Review By: Mari Gold