restaurants
Gemma
335 Bowery
The Bowery Hotel
212 505 9100

There is a fakeness about Gemma that we don't understand. This airy corner eatery at the Bowery Hotel has the requisite created 'old, stained wood and recovered chandeliers' look of so-now Italian restos. A chance to do up the history of the Bowery was lost here. (Why didn't they do this place with tap dancing memorabilia, voter ballots from Tammany Hall and the draft riots, sheaves of Dickens writing, historic photos of the Bowery Boys, and gas lighting from the lighting district down the street??) But instead, it's wannabe Old World Italian. Fortunately a roomy bar, well- priced thin crust pizzas (all of them tasty) and managers who run around trying to get it all to come together (read: doing damage control for their clueless younger staff) make it work. It's an easy place to walk into for an aperitif or a late bite and as time goes by, that's where we see it going. Well-situated with comfortable lighting and an uncomplicated Italian menu, it doesn't have the clubby feel of some other hot spots; your bill might include other people's food; there might be cocktail olives in your olive platter; and good luck having the clueless hostess get your friends to your table, but then again you won't leave feeling like some magazine editor just tricked you into paying his Connecticut summer home mortgage.

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