The Beautiful Flower

  1. I covered Police Headquarters at night for a newspaper, and I often ate in a restaurant named the Grotta Azzurra, which is only a block over, at the southwest corner of Broome and Mulberry, and stays open until two. I still go down there every now and then. The Grotta Azzurra is a classical downtown New York South Italian restaurant: it is a family enterprise, it is in the basement of a tenement, it has marble steps, it displays in a row of bowls propped up on a table dry samples of all the kinds of pasta it serves, its kitchen is open to view through an arch, and it has scenes of the Bay of Naples painted on its walls. Among its specialties is striped bass cooked in clam broth with clams, mussels, shrimp, and squid, and it may be possible to find a better fish and-shellfish dish in one of the great restaurants of the world, but I doubt it. I had a late dinner in the Grotta Azzurra one Sunday night recently, and then sat and talked for a while with two of the waiters at a table in back. W...

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