Friday 23 May 2008

Toilets at Historic Angelo's on Mulberry Street Beautifully Blend Old World Charm with New World Style

Angelo's of Mulberry Street
146 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10013

Where is it?

From the front entrance, head to the back of the place. You'll pass through a narrow dining room along the way, as well as the entrance to the kitchen, which will be on your left.

About halfway down, you'll also notice a waiter station. Behind that, the restaurant opens up some to reveal it's back-of-store dining room. Just past the waiter station is a twisting staircase heading to to the basement. Take those stairs downward and you'll come to a small lobby, off of which are the bathrooms.

What's it like?

This establishment, located in the ever-shrinking neighborhood of Manhattan's Little Italy, has been serving high-end Italian and Italian-American cuisine for more than 100 years. The interior extends that sense of history, especially in its aged woodwork, hand-painted murals, dim lighting and friendly-yet-professional wait staff, many of which are from the Old Country.

The menu itself consists of dozens of well-prepared dishes, from fresh salads, breads and antipastos to pasta dishes to meats and desserts. Portions are enormous and a bit on the pricey side, but the quality of the food is so high and the ingredients so fresh that you feel like you're getting your money's worth.

I had a wonderful, flavor-packed pasta dish filled with big chunks of garlic, tomato and crab. My companion had a special of squid ink pasta with various cheeses in it. Both were otherworldly, as was the incredibly fresh Antipasto all' Italiana, assorted cold cuts and cheese that featured some of the freshest, creamiest fresh buffalo mozzarella I'd ever had in my life.

Given the Old World charms exuding from the dining room, you would expect the bathroom to be a throwback to the past, or at least a clever spin on the place's turn-of-the-century roots, a la Bennigan's or Macaroni Grill, if you will.

(And no, I'm not trying to imply that Angelo's and those chain restaurants have anything to do with one another, just that I was expecting the toilets to possibly have that kind of design.)

But, of course, they didn't. Though the dining room is very traditional, the toilets here are decidedly modern in design and very clean -- a surprise considering its age and NYC location. (You never know with this city, you know?) Granted, there were some cigarette buts in the urinal -- strange since NYC no longer allows smoking in places that serve food -- but otherwise the place was spotless and fresh smelling.

Sleek, gray, sandstone-inspired tile covers the walls, the grout line all but invisible, and light sandstone-colored tile covers the floor (in a way that isn't at all like the other red-brick-floored places we've visited), creating an almost futurist vibe in the place. The pedestal sink, toilet and urinals (two of them) are all white porcelain, but like at Sensi and Okada in Las Vegas, the sleek, futuristic-albeit-minimalistic wall design somehow makes the fixtures seem less plain, almost like pieces of art.

On the flip side, the toilets are a bit small for multi-person facilities. Not as small as what I experienced at the Petro Palace Hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia, mind you, or even Club Quarters Philadelphia and Marathon Grill in Philly (they were more the size of, say, Sharky's in St. Augustine), but they were somewhat small for multi-person facilities. I ended up sharing the space with a person on my first visit here (I made two in all) and it felt crammed with two people in there. I could see how this might make things uncomfortable if someone were there for a longer visit and another person came in.

Still, the cozy lobby just outside the toilets, featuring a well-worn padded bench and some homey artwork, makes for a good place to wait out any delays and give other attendees some privacy until it becomes your turn to go inside.

Marks out of 10:

8. Classy, sleek and small -- not what I expected in the least.

Comments to the Management:

It's a small space and you've done your best to cover it up. Just make sure the cigarette butts stay out of the urinals and you're golden.

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