Scott Ellis 3 a.m., March 12
Enoteca But Nice: Focaccia on J Street
Down by the ballpark, about 5:30 p.m. Lotsa glass-clinking and laffs from across J Street. Basic Pizza’s up and running.
Almost tempted to cross over and stop in for a pint and…well, no. Don’t really feel like the whole pizza-in-a-warehouse thing, even tho it’s a fun place. But with a sunset like this, and an open terrazza, and a couple of people clinking wine glasses, wine wins.
Uh, that is if they have a happy hour. This is Toast Enoteca & Cucina (927 J Street, East Village, 619-269-4207). It’s a swanky-looking place with all sorts of wine bottle delivery systems inside.
Scary thing is they list all their antipasti, salads, “pizze,” main dishes and desserts without mentioning price. This is on the chalkboard at the entrance.
But they do have an appetizers list, around the $10 range, looks like. So I’m figuring, a Jackson before you get out. About to move on when the waiter Greg comes up.
“These are half price in happy hour, three to six every day except Saturday, and all day Sunday. And $3 drafts and $5 wines.”
Hmm. So maybe could get out under $10? And under 15 minutes? ’Cause I’ve got a bus to catch. Decide it’s worth trying. Sit down into a red metal grill chair at a table covered in brown linen with orange napkins under an orange umbrella.
To make it speedy I pick a focaccia with ham and I think he says mozzarella inside. That’s usually $8, goes for $4 right now. I ask for a house red and Greg offers a Sangiovese. Sounds good to me. Costs $5.
Here’s the surprise: I was expecting microscopic servings, this being happy hour. But the wine fills most of the glass’s bulge, and wow. The focaccia must be six inches square, and pillowy thick.
You can tell there’s stuff inside. Plus they've thrown a big wad of arugula piled green on top. Plus a big bottle of fresh cold water. Cool.
Best of all, it does turn out to be a lot of food. The thing is basically a blanket of flaky pastry, but inside's plenty of slices of ham wrapped in melting cheese.
I could almost call this dinner. I mean, a $4 dinner on J Street, at an eno...whatever, a wine place?
That's a deal.
In the end, I have to get Greg to pack half the focaccia, and gulp the wine.
I know. Crime against civilization. But miss this bus and it’s another hour. (Ha! Thought the whole thing politicians talk about is more public transportation, not less.)
My bill is $9.70. Made it. Just. OK, it’s not a ten-buck all-u-can-eat, but it’s a lot for a little in a place like this.