Is it possible for everyone to be wrong about something? Are we, as a populace, so gullible that we can follow a false prophet as one virtually unbroken unit? Or perhaps even worse, know that we are willfully accepting something that we should not? If so, HOW did we arrive at this place? How is it possible that no one is lifting the veil, speaking the truth, and shouting at the top of their lungs that the Emperor has no clothes?!? Well, allow me to be the break in the chain, and quite possibly the first person you’ve ever heard say this: Little Dom’s SUCKS.
If you were to go there on a Saturday night at meal-time and did not make a reservation your wait will be roughly 60 minutes. It could be more. It’s always crowded. You will find yourself packed into a bar that serves Moscow Mules in copper mugs that might taste like mildewy bar rag, depending on who makes it. You’ll be surrounded by attractive, well-dressed, mid/late 30’s creative (looking) types, who at a glance, one might assume know a thing or two about food. (Spoiler: they don’t). Order a straight pour of good rye or the butternut infused Eagle Rare (it’s intended for Old Fashioned’s, but far better on it’s own [and it’s just lovely]) instead of a fancy drink. The bartenders are heavy handed when there’s no filler. Silver lining. Once you’ve spent an hour shouting at your date over the 60 other people in the room who are shouting at their dates over you, you’ll be lead to a paper topped table by a designer/actress/model/hostess who is a sweet as can be and will (though you won’t know it at the time) be a highlight of the experience. Next, your writer/producer/actor/director/server will be out with a stale sub roll in a paper bag for you to enjoy. Then comes the really fun part. Food.
I started with an arugula salad that was totally unremarkable but everything you need it to be, and the absolute best grilled octopus I have ever had in my entire life. Loads of lemon, smoked paprika and salt make this small plate that is not that small explode with flavor. I went back for it the following week, and it’s not a fluke: their grilled octopus is a perfect dish. Hence, the rest of their offerings being deplorable is even more confounding.
Little Dom’s has a burger that I obviously have to discuss because that’s what this blog is about, but in that the total experience of dining here is what I feel obligated to share, it’s going to be brief. According to the menu, it has burratta, speck, and roasted tomato mostarda. It’s served on focaccia, though the menu doesn’t say that, and mine had greens on it too. Innovative kind of? Yes. Burratta and cured pork, gloriously united? Yes again. Seems like it would have been hard to blow it, right? The bread was so stale I can’t imagine how anyone sent it out of the kitchen. Whoever cut it had to have been drunk or really hate the job, because no one could have not noticed how old that bread was. Inedible. Additionally, the heaping glop of tomato stuff was cold. As in, 33 degrees, cold. Hurt your teeth kind of cold. Frozen 30 seconds ago, cold. So the patty and the two ingredients that one can’t screw up, were far less attention grabbing. Ultimately the burger just got disected while I wished I had ordered more octopus.
Little Dom’s presents itself as an Italian restaurant, so perhaps their burger’s lack is due to the fact that their energy and skill went to more traditional dishes, right? Like, spaghetti and meatballs, for example. Well I ordered that too. Pasta: huge. Looked like udon noodles. Sauce: whatever. Meatballs: so impossibly bland that I think there has to have been a mistake. I truly believe that whoever made that batch of meatballs forgot to put salt in it. It was not as if there wasn’t enough, there was NONE. ZERO. They tasted more like newspaper than food. I hope that the person who forgets to salt meatballs is the same person who serves 3 month old focaccia and that s/he has since been fired.
Naturally, I felt that some credit must be given to the masses. As mentioned, this place is always packed, so I began to ask around as to whether I am the only one who is unimpressed by the food. I tweeted “Hurry somebody tell me something that doesn’t suck from Lil Dom’s.” Responses: “Beer.” “Prosecco.” “Ye Old Rustic” (which is a sports bar across the street). So I asked strangers at surrounding tables to rate their meals. Mediocrity at best was all that anyone had to report. A young woman at the table to my left sent her spaghetti back only to be presented with a new dish that was incorrect in the exact same way as the first. She confessed her disappointment but resigned to cope. The guys to my right had oyster po-boy’s and said that while the quality and freshness of the oysters was superb, every other single thing about the dish was a bummer. Then, myself and my new friends all started eavesdropping on the conversations of more surrounding tables as THEY complained about how their dinners were shitty too. Not a single person I talked to had exemplary things to say about anything they ordered. So I ask you, all of you Little Dom’s patrons: WHY THE FUCK DO YOU GO THERE? If your response is anything other than the words “grilled octopus,” then I urge you to reevaluate your experience and/or goals. I think you have been fooled, or are accepting sub-par cuisine for reasons I can’t understand. Fun fact though, if you image search “Little Dom’s” it’s not food, it’s famous people. TMZ style pics of actors leaving brunch. So perhaps I’m the odd man out of the clientele, and to enjoy such cardboard meatballs requires the palate of someone with a script for sale. I’ll never know. If you do find yourself roped into a meal there though, I beg you, do not stray from that octopus. It’s the only thing worth eating.