Fishing in Hell

Hell's kitchen isn't on my normal routes, but a friend who lives there assured me that it would be well worththe trip so I found myself in his neighborhood Italian restaurant - Osteria Gelsi. It wasn't merely Italian; it was Puglian (they don't let you into New York City Italian restaurants without a geography exam nowadays - Puglia happens to be on the boot heel of peninsular Italy). I dont know anything about Puglia, but its obvious they're fond of fish. The menu leaned heavily towards seafood, but more interestingly (in a city of a million Italian eateries) promised fishes that I'd rarely seen anywhere else, such as porgie or rock scorpion fish. We ordered one of each, preceded by baked baby squid and followed by a huge square of (what else) tiramisu. The food was fantastic. Both the fishes were revelations; the assertive, coarse-grained porgie simply grilled with herbs, the flaky, buttery rock scorpion fish with cherry tomatoes. The baked baby squid starter - tiny morsels of squid breaded and baked - was very nice too. The standard but fabulously airy tiramisu was a great ending to the dinner. So calm and mellow was my mood after the meal that I was even persuaded to pay for the whole thing.

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