1319 N 49th St
Perche’ no is located in a McMansion in Wallingford. The building is fucked up looking: gross salmon- colored stucco and pointless quoining indicate that they’re shooting for the “Six Flags Over Italian Food” conceit. It looks out of place in the neighborhood; it really looks like it should be located in a mall parking lot. The prerequisite replica of Michaelangelo’s David swings his disappointingly tiny marble pecker down at you from a corner of the roof. Why try to emulate the Olive Garden? That’s as fucked up as buying a Real Doll that resembles your own mom (note: I have a Real Doll that looks like your mom).
The first difficulty we encountered was the menu: it isn’t exactly written in the Queen’s English. It reads like the dialogue from a poorly translated Nintendo game circa 1988. In fact, with its awkward phrasing and vague subject- verb agreement, it’s more like a Chinese food menu than Italian. According to this menu the cappellini con sardine features “Chef flavor pasta.” As an upstanding citizen I object to being served pasta that tastes like a person; cannibalism is ILLEGAL, you motherfuckers! Another dish has the puzzling ingredient “spine shape pine nuts.” And I always thought they were oblong.
Once I stopped feeling superior to the menu we ordered stuff. The Salumi alla Perche’no was a trio of house- made prosciutto: for $12 you got 6 paper thin slices, 2 each of regular pork, wild boar, and lamb prosciutto, each slice smeared with a drop of olive oil and some diced garlic. This seemed expensive, but what offended me more than the price was the fact that all of the prosciutto was almost inedibly salty. The traditional pork prosciutto was salty but otherwise unremarkable. The wild boar prosciutto was interesting: it tasted like pork, but “porkier,” somehow, as if you genetically engineered a pig so that its legs were made of short ribs instead of ham. Man, would that be fucking delicious. I hope ConAgra gets cracking on creating some shambling, horrific mutant pigs made entirely of short ribs pretty soon. The lamb prosciutto wasn’t that great. Unfortunately for Perche’ no, all lamb prosciutto in this town must inevitably be compared to Salumi’s. Did it stand up? Nope: Perche’ no’s version isn’t even qualified to shake Armandino Batali’s dick after he pisses. It was salty, gummy, and tasted like an old pot roast covered in dust bunnies.
The spinacci della casa ($8) was a spinach salad with sautéed onions and crumbles of pancetta. The spinach was lightly wilted and shellacked with a warm vinaigrette made from the pancetta drippings. Staring up at you from the spinach was a pale areola of watery mozzarella, and the whole thing was garnished with a couple anemic slices of mealy unripe tomato. This salad was actually pretty good, if maybe a bit greasy. The vinaigrette was flavorful, the spinach was very fresh, and there were lots of pancetta bits for crunch. However, the almost flavorless mozzarella was totally unnecessary. And the tomatoes sucked. If you can’t find ripe tomatoes, then DON’T FUCKING INCLUDE THEM. A good tomato is a thing of beauty: sweet as a 1966 Chevelle SS and as enthusiastically juicy as a 30- year- old divorcee. An unripe tomato, on the other hand, is a bitter spinster driving a moped (your mom, in other words).
Next up was the cappellini con sardine ($13). As previously mentioned, this was a dish of “chef flavored pasta.” I guess this particular chef tastes like garlic, sardines, and powdered parmesan cheese, because that’s what the cappellini tasted like. Chunks of roasted garlic peeked out here and there from a bird’s nest of angel hair pasta, which was cooked to a confident al dente. The occasional caper popped its head up now and then, and there were many flakes of fresh- tasting sardine. This was actually pretty tasty except for all the cheese: the waiter unceremoniously dumped a giant snowdrift of powdered parmesan all over my plate which instantly dulled the other flavors. That sandy, dry, fake parmesan with its shitty bouquet of aluminum cans and puke belongs only on late- night pizza, and NOT in the hand of a waiter at any serious Italian restaurant.
The salsicce pizza ($13) had an ephemeral, chewy, and bubbly crust, but the sauce was weird: thin and oddly sweet, it tasted like some kind of Chef Boyardee bullshit. Slices of Italian sausage dotted this crust like meaty hay bales in an Ansel Adams pizzascape. The sausage was juicy and flavorful, when you could actually get a piece of it into your mouth: they tended to unbalance the frail crust, so that when you grabbed a pizza slice, the sausage rolled off, ricocheting off the wooden board upon which the pizza was served. And oh yeah, the pizza comes on a wooden chopping board, which is an apparently significant enough detail for them to mention it on the fucked- up menu.
For dessert we had the Ciocollatta Amaretto Mousse ($7). This was just a simple chocolate mousse, piped up old school in a glass sundae dish. This pretty much sucked. Little lumps of chocolate kept interrupting the consistency, and the amaretto flavor left a nagging aftertaste with each spoonful. The OTHER dessert, however, was really good: raspberries! The waiter kept saying we should get the “raspberries” for dessert. This was apparently a dessert special. The guy danced around with excitement, seeming like he was going to whiz in his pants if we didn’t order it, so I got the fucking raspberries. I thought he meant raspberry gelato, but no, it really was just raspberries: a whole mound of them, red, ripe, and sweet, piled into a cup made of dark chocolate. This sugary ship floated in a pool of crème anglais which had been decoratively spiderwebbed with chocolate sauce. The crème anglais was smooth and not overpoweringly sweet, but really, the raspberries hardly needed the sauce. They were so sweet by themselves that I found myself ignoring the sauce altogether and just scarfing down handfuls of berries.
Perche’ no is the very template of the kind of shitty generic Italian food that’s too big for its britches, a paper tiger, an empty suit. If restaurants were people, Perche’ no would be Sarah Palin. They should’ve called this place “Perche’ FUCK no,” because that’s what I’ll say if anyone ever asks me if I want to go back there. It’s not really THAT terrible, but if it’s Italian cuisine you’re after, Cantinetta is right down the street. I’m sure some people really like Perche’ No, but those people are probably retarded.
Rating: 4.5 raspberries out of 10