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Home GAMING The mayor's custom, at Osteria La Baia

The mayor’s custom, at Osteria La Baia

The other night at Osteria La Baia, a “seaside Italian” restaurant that opened last year, downtown, a cool manager asked my group how we heard about the place. As we started to stammer out an awkward response, she interrupted, “Did you drive by and see our car out front?” Yes! That was it, the baby blue vintage coupe parked on the curb, silk flowers sprouting from its windows and the hood open. She beckoned to us as we wandered aimlessly down Fifty-second Street.

The truth is that we had read about it. In February, Politician identified Osteria La Baia as the haunt of Eric Adams, Mayor of New York City. Last month, reporters from the Times certain that he had visited at least fourteen times in June alone, often arriving late and closing the dining room—the private dining room, to be exact, which is lined with frosted glass.

Osteria La Baia’s website identifies it as a “Coastal Italian” restaurant.

Twin brothers Robert and Zhan Petrosyants, whose employees refer to as the owners of the restaurant, are close friends of the mayor. They are also convicted felons barred from having a liquor license (in 2014, they pleaded guilty to a check cashing scheme) and are also known for their affiliation with a couple of Brooklyn restaurants that owe more than a million dollars in debt

Adams’ support of La Baia: appearances there with other high-profile figures, including Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio; promotion on social networks; and resplendent praise, as quoted in the mail—is in an ethical gray area. the Times reporters did not observe the mayor handling his check at the restaurant, although a member of his camp assured the newspaper that he pays a monthly bill. They did note that a server asked the mayor (who wrote a book on maintaining a plant-based diet) if he would have his usual branzino.

In front of the restaurant is an old coupe repurposed as a planter.

The meticulous investigation was missing only one key aspect: how What the Brazilian? That night, before our drinks arrived, a waiter presented me with a huge bowl of chocolate ice cream. We both laughed at his mistake, but as dinner progressed it became clear that the mistake was mine. If only I had eaten the ice cream and left.

A Caesar salad was appetizing enough, if it was overdressed. The vitello tonnato, finished with capers, was unobjectionable, the highlight of the meal, in hindsight, and I could only muster mild complaints about the warm vegan pizza topped with delicate pumpkin and green dollops of hemp ricotta.

The chewy lobster did nothing to redeem the flabby garganelli. The rigatoni alla Norma was overcooked and under salted, the aubergine in the overly sweet sauce could hardly be identified. Still, none of that prepared me for the main event. I had never seen a fish presented like this: gutted and spread out skin side up, head forward, tail straight, like a rug of fish skin. When I sent a photo to a friend, he asked me if he had seen the movie “Midsommar”: “They kill a guy like that fish is prepared”.

Desserts include ice cream and semolina olive oil cake with candied lemon and whipped cream.

The edges of the skin were charred and bubbled, but the center was tight and elastic. My companions and I reluctantly poked at the white pulp below, which lay atop a jumble of olives, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. It was enough to keep a pescatarian away from the fish. But then what would she eat? The mushrooms in the vegan single dish tasted like they had been left to ferment under a thick layer of damp leaves in a forest, and not in the René Redzepi way.

When an editor of this magazine asked La Baia’s management about organizing a photo shoot, the objection was swift: there were no photographers, not even for reviews. The photographer would simply go to dinner, then, armed with an iPhone. Hours before booking him, he received a call: the kitchen was closed due to a mysterious electrical problem. That night, which turned out to be September 11, Instagram told a different story. The Petrosyants twins appeared to be throwing a birthday party, according to time-stamped videos posted by guests. In one, the camera panned across a long table, stopping, for a moment, on the mayor. (Platers $16-$155.)

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