Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Red Sauce Juggernaut

The New York Times today mentioned this blog in their piece on "The Red Sauce Juggernaut." Writes Jeff Gordinier:

"Click to a blog like Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, though, and you may get the impression that Major Food is forcing out ancient, authentic, downtown grit (such as Rocco, the sleepy old-school restaurant whose space Carbone took over) to make room for gentrified gloss.

'Leave it alone and it’s going to go away,' Mr. Carbone said. 'You’re not going to have the Colosseum to look at if someone doesn’t fix it.'

They see their efforts as a way to preserve and elevate each restaurant space, instead of letting it vanish in a landscape dominated by generic chain stores. As Mr. Zalanick said: 'What’s it going to become? A Chase? A Duane Reade?'"

(Echoes of the "Better Than a Bank" false dichotomy.)

If you're clicking over from the Times, and want to read more, here's everything I've written on the topic of Rocco's and the vanishing of authentic, old-school red-sauce joints:

Rocco Ristorante
Rocco's Update
Torrisi on Rocco
Rocco's and Bill's
Red-Sauce Joints
Rocco Simulacrum


esquared™ said...

To reiterate, "the Italian-American Gastronomic Recovery Project", the new Fedora, the new Minetta Tavern, the new Bill's Gay 90s, etc., are an authentrification — on top of gentrifying the neighborhood, "they’re seizing on elements that represent the area’s past and repurposing them as a design scheme" and "decorating our spaces with totems of the culture we just destroyed." The more they're trying to authentrify a place, the more it is inauthentic and disingenuous. Preserving/Elevating/Bringing back to life on what is dead or about to die/close/vanish is like burying someone in Pet Sematary — they're not the same coming back: they're a deleterious soulless shadow of their former self. Just let it die a peaceful death. Often times, dead or gone is better. But,what's worse today is that the places aren't just dying a natural death, they are being killed so that these ol'-timer joints can be "preserved and elevated" and reanimated by the likes of the Torrisis and Stulmans so that they can be supercilious. The choices nowadays are only either a bank/pharmacy/starbucks or an aunthentrified place. The choice of having be a small business or mom 'n' pop shop such as a shoe repair, hardware, or tailor, is null because the rents are too damn high. Thus, if not dead, often times, a bank or pharmacy is better since they are at least sincerely insincere.

Anonymous said...

Amen, esquared. Well said.

Mitch said...

What an odd metaphor. No one took care of the Colosseum for a thousand years and it didn't go anywhere.

randall said...

I don't want to be buried in a Pet Sematary.

Anonymous said...

Preserve and elevate this.

M in B-ville said...

Well, to thank Jeremaih for keeping me honest. I won't disclose details (gee, my children), but I think Jeremiah more than anyone else I regularly go to has guided me here. And in the maelstrom which is my life (my life no different from everyone else's in this regard), I might have been compromising, handing Bloomberg his honorary degree (literally). Yelp!! This post a good place to comment -- though, J, you may not want to publish it, and I would understand. But thank you, Jeremiah!

Anonymous said...

"Authentification"---great phrase, esquared--very accurate. Kind of like living in a computer generated effect.

Anonymous said...

Rough, man. When we moved to Brooklyn almost a decade ago, my husband & I had our first anniversary in the city at Rocco's - totally by accident. Just kinda stumbled in. The prices were great, the server was great, and when we told him it was our anniversary he sent over complimentary cocktails. A year later we splurged for dinner out again, and were greeted by the same guy with "Happy anniversary, boys!". He remembered us. It stuck with me, hard. We went to Rocco's when we could over the next few years, becoming "regulars" in our way. And then we showed up for our anniversary dinner to find the windows papered over, a bitter note taped to the glass. NYC is an ever-churning, dying beast, but that broke my heart. Rocco's made me feel like extended family, as was their habit. We refused to have anything to do with Carbone, and eventually left the Shitty for nicer parts north.