As many of you know I have been on the 'rubber chicken' circuit for many years and the one thing in general you can always count on is service by people who would rather be somewhere else and food that only my Mother-in-law would like.
Then we have Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, NY. I have had an opportunity to dine here three times and at each occasion there has never been less than 600 people (an average size Polish Wedding in WI) in the group. I always refer to the experience, and it is an experience, as an exercise in excess. I am not sure how other groups do it but here is a typical banquet night with my Brothers and their wives or dates. We arrive by bus – a lot of them and then make the mad rush to the cocktail/appetizer arena. Since we have been here before and know the ‘lay-out’ we send the girls to appropriate some cocktail tables close to the food and one of the bars, while we do the obligatory backslapping and glad-handing. There has to be over 80 different hot and cold appetizers spread throughout the various rooms; the choices range from a whole
Roast Pig to California Rolls and Tripe. Our cocktail waitress Daniela (who was also our dinner server) was completely on top of the situation and cocktails appeared immediately. There are enough appetizers to feed Rhode Island with a little left over for New Hampshire. First-timers have been known to leave after cocktails thinking this was to total event. I have learned to be selective and not graze the entire field of food because the second event is about to start.
Dinner Chimes: We are seated throughout the facility, for those who do not have a clear view of the head table there are flat screens and speakers all over, you will never miss a thing. But back to the food, we are offered a menu with 11 entries to select from: Chicken Ligure with Wild Mushrooms, Pork Osso Buco Milanese, NY Cut ‘Sterling Silver’ Shell Steak, Grilled Veal Chop, Atlantic Salmon, Lemon Sole St. Michelle, King Shrimp Oreganato, Duck A L’Orange, Eggplant Parmigiana Tower, Portobello Mushroom, and Stuffed Plum Tomato. I have been in restaurants that cannot handle three of these items much less being prepared to serve any or all of them for a service of 600 plus.
We again started with an appetizer of Prosciutto and Honey Dew Mellon, followed by a Radicchio Salad with Vinegar & Oil dressing. Now for the main course, which was for me Duck with Wild Rice and for the Little Marinara, King Shrimp Oreganato. Whenever I had an empty cocktail glass another drink appeared, bottomless bottles of wine were everywhere and the evening was concluded with an Espresso and Pastry.
The food was outstanding and the service was impeccable. Our server Daniela was 21 and handled herself like a well seasoned pro, a special thank you to her for making it a good evening. I have always felt that a sign of great service is when everything happens as it should, but you are not aware that it is going on. I am told that our service was the standard and not the exception. Hats off to Frank Russo for some great training and wonderful food.
I need to decompress as I return to WI – there are still a lot of fish frys to find as my quest continues. The Big Ragu gives this a 4 outa 5.