Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Time Out Should be Called on this Nonsense

Time Out Chicago, a web site and magazine featuring coverage of all things Chicago (as well as New York, Los Angeles and other cities), should know better. After all, Chicago has a sizeable Italian-American population.

But, apparently, at least one of their writers -- in an effort to be hip, funny, with-it or erudite (possibly all these things) -- has masterly boiled down the Italian-American eating experience at a particular local restaurant into a cliched theatrical performance. Or should I say a farcical experience?

In an article on Time Out Chicago's website, writer David Tamarkin took on the task of reviewing Natalino's, a local Chicago Italian restaurant. In his short review he's managed to reduce the restaurant to a caricature of the Italian-American-Mafia-Food experience.

Here's just a taste of the tripe he passes off as a restaurant review:

It’s hard to say if the bada-bing vibe here is an act or not. But it doesn’t really matter, because either way Natalino’s does the Italian-American thing pretty well.
It's nice to know that Natalino's "does the Italian-American thing" well! That says a lot for its food. It's as if Natalino's was a Chinese restaurant trying to pass itself off as Mama Leone's.

And when he does get around to actually mentioning the food, he does this:

As if to top it, the restaurant pushes a dessert called “broken” cannoli, an enormous pile of sweet mascarpone that’s dotted with broken cannoli shells to scoop it all up. Nobody could possibly finish the thing. Of course, you’re not expected to—it’s simply about keeping up appearances.

Apparently Natalino's doesn't serve food. They "push" it on their customers, who are not really expected to actually eat any of the "things" the restaurant serves them. They're just expected to enjoy the "appearance" of an illusion of Italian food.