Feeling Liminal at Centro

If there's one thing the West Village doesn't need any more of it is Italian restaurants. Those and Marc Jacobs stores are the Lernaean Hydras of West Village real estate. You cut one off and two pop up in its stead. That said, Centro Vinoteca, the newly opened and much anticipated Italian restaurant on 7th avenue and Barrow Street, could be worse. The menu, by Mario Batali's Iron Chef sidekick Anne Burrell, is full of obscure shit you've never heard of but love to eat. And there's no doubt that the bartenders—some of them from the recently closed Room 4 Dessert—can make the best Champagne Fizz this side of Seventh Avenue. But why were all the dresses of the women at the bar halter tops and what could explain the ubiquity of pattern button down shirts among the men? Slowly surveying the crowd it dawned on us that we had entered into a labyrinth of MePa overflow assholes. How did that happen? But the bafflingest part was the steady stream of models and B-list celebrities like Thom Felicia that flowed from the back restaurant and out the front door. The people around me were clearly not of that ilk. Was there a secret back room?

It turns out no. There's a "secret" upstairs, however. Ok, actually it's just the upstairs but ugly people can't get it. Just go to the bathroom and follow the stairs upwards. The vibe is much more restaurant-y than the almost loungish feel of the downstairs. There are real tables and real chairs and no cheesy lighting fixtures. The people are gayer by and large (this is where Queer Eye Felicia was sitting) and prettier. They took cigarette breaks often, parading through the hoi polloi in the galley with a haughty step, their Marc Jacobs heels clicking a Morse code message on the tile floor: We are cooler than you.

[Photo: via]