Caffé La Fenice flies beneath the restaurant radar. I’ve walked by it dozens of times over at least a five year period on the way to Lincoln Center, from which it is only a few blocks away. Given the paucity of dining options in that immediate vicinity, I was surprised to find it is not even in Zagat.
Well, it was Saturday evening, and I had no reservations before a 7:15 performance of Lohengrin. The usual standouts were booked, and I thought of La Fenice (which means “The Phoenix,” and shares its name with an opera house in Venice). Sure enough, they had a table, so we gave it a try.
I had a terrific grilled portabello mushroom, which was about double the usual portion, along with a perfectly respectable grilled red snapper. My friend started with a salad and then rack of lamb, which she thought was wonderful.
La Fenice has a wonderful selection of flavored martinis — I tried peach. As we had five hours of Wagner ahead of us, we didn’t sample the wine list.
The decor is uncomplicated faux Italian. There is sidwalk dining available on a spring or summer evening, and we enjoyed the fresh air. One complaint with the service was that the entrées were delivered before we were finished with our appetizers. They took them back to the kitchen, but it was an amateurish mistake nonetheless.
For uncomplicated solid Italian cuisine before the symphany or the opera, we’ll certainly be back to La Fenice.
Caffé La Fenice (2014 Broadway between 68th & 69th Sts, Upper West Side)