>> Wednesday, June 16, 2010
107-02 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
And how, you’re bound to ask, does the above ad square with the reality of that which Positano actually is? Hmmm...
Bro and I walked in only to find Positano virtually deserted. A musty odor of decrepitude permeating the restaurant that made it smell like a hospital waiting room. We nearly left. Sitting down by the window, I looked through the menu, but it was hard to pay attention. “My God, this muzak is blasting.” “Dude,” Bro replied. “That ain’t muzak” and he raised an eyebrow and cocked his head to the far wall. My eyes roamed past the two other occupied tables. There, in the dark bopped a guy in his late forties with a big microphone and bigger hair crooning karaoke machine versions of old pop songs, complete with a disco ball and fake backup singers. As Elvis's Can't Help Falling In Love transitioned to Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive I couldn’t imagine that this could possibly be attracting more people than it was repelling.
Positano’s appetizer menu is a joke. Mozzarella sticks, fried calamari, Buffalo wings. This is what they serve at bars and pizza places. We skipped them.
What’s so amazing is that they dare to charge as much as they do for their entrees. $17 to $26. Entrees that average $22 demand a certain level of quality that Positano simply doesn't even try to live up to. We decided what to get as we noshed on supermarket squishy Italian bread coated in butter from a gold-foil packet a la some diner. Bro ordered the Pollo Positano, thin cuts of chicken breast with potato, red pepper and mushrooms in a white wine sauce. It came with a side of sad-looking steamed broccoli. Before I say it was "bad", let me say that it wasn’t. But as Bro put it “this won’t win any awards.” If you’ve familiar with Chicken Tonight, the chicken-dinner-in-a-jar popular back when I was in school, then you’ve probably already eaten this meal hundred times from when mom got home late and wasn't interested in making a complicated meal. Bland, wine sauce-esque, cheap, seemingly canned vegetables, somewhat dry chicken. Not only won’t it win any awards, I don’t think the judges will even remember that it was in the contest.
My dinner? The Lamb Chops served with mashed sweet potatoes, mixed greens and a garlic crouton in a ruby port sauce. First, when asked how I wanted my chops cooked, I said medium. I got well-to-the-point-of-no-return. I did not get a “garlic crouton”, something I can only assume to be the equivalent of a piece of toasted garlic bread. The mixed greens were essentially a small side salad soaking in vinegar. The mashed sweet potatoes were straight out of a Gerber baby food jar. I shit you not, I could have eaten them with a straw. They drained through the cracks of my fork. The ruby port sauce was pretty good though.
This was $24 and I didn't even get my garlic crouton... :(
Surprise, surprise, we also skipped dessert. I mean really, what would've been the point?
Here’s the real kicker. This meal: two entrees and three beers, with tax and tip, cost us SEVENTY SEVEN DOLLARS! That's the equivalent of 25 gallons of gas.
If Positano wants to be anything more than a joke we can all laugh about, if it wants to be anything other than just another bad Italian restaurant in a neighborhood drowning in bad Italian, if it wants to have more than three tables occupied at 8pm, then I recommend dropping the bullshit gimmicks. Drop the karaoke singers and the Latin Night, and the ladies night “must be over 18 to party” dance club crap. Drop the Tex Mex brunch (yeah, you read right, an Italian restaurant with a Tex Mex brunch) and drop the tacky signage. Focus on the food. Hire a chef. A real one with a culinary degree. They should design a menu from scratch with five appetizers, ten entrees, three desserts and one special and start making meals that people talk about for days later because they're so good, not because they're so embarrassing.
Alternatively, they could close, which would be fine, too.