Exactly what you want to look at while you eat.
We don't do restaurant reviews — unless it's a celebrity restaurant (oh, NYLA, we miss you so!). So last night we decided to don our crazypants and hit Destino, the new Italian restaurant at 50th and 1st Avenue. No, we didn't go for the food, even though Rao's Mario Curko is in the kitchen — we went because Justin Timberlake is a minority investor, and we were really curious as to whether or not Destino would be half as sleek and glitzy as his Los Angeles venture, Chi. Plus, we heard that Timberlake was required to make something like 2 appearances every 5 years (or some such silliness), and what if — what if — he was hanging at his new place that night? Then we could finally challenge him to a dance-off.
Yeah, not so much. On all counts. No glitz, no glamour, no real style or design to the place whatsoever (save for the venue's ceiling, pictured above, which rivals that of the Sistine Chapel). Not even the coziness of Rao's — just leather banquettes, an out-of-sorts chandelier in the entryway, and a hefty dose of wall sconces. We couldn't help but wonder if someone like Timberlake would even go to a restaurant like this: very Little Italy, very high-end Sopranos.
Wait, the food. Yes, technically Destino is about food. We give it an "eh" or so: good meatballs, bad clams. Pasta decent, but overpriced. Everything was eaten with fork (for you, Hesser, all for you). The rest was sort of unremarkable, which made us rather sad for having ventured so far from our typical environs. But the wine was good, and the servers were attentive...and that's about the best we can muster for an Adam Platt imitation.
We can do a much better Frank Bruni impression, however. We're a bit embarrassed to even note this, but we couldn't stop singing along to the music being piped through the dining room. Stand-outs included Wilson-Phillips' Hold On, I Got the Power by Snap, and our personal favorite, the Nelson twins' timeless classic, Love and Affection. Honestly, it was like they had stolen our iPod and given it wings.
One highlight: Lizzie Grubman is repping the restaurant, meaning that even if it's just an average venue, you'll continue to hear about it 'til no end. We caught a look at her engagement ring, which is as huge as is to be expected. Naturally, anything less would be white trash.