Marta has made a few changes since I visited last–the once cavernous marble foyer has been sectioned off with glass-and-wood panels, defining the restaurant from the lobby of the Martha Washing Hotel. It’s midday and mostly vacant, save for a long table of 12 in the center of the space and a few sporadic parties throughout. Two groups clustered at the bar. Michelle and I sit down together. It’s the first outing since she began the process of opening the restaurant she GM’s in Montauk; I broke my foot six weeks ago to the day, and this is the first of a very well-deserved beverage since then.
Being that it’s negroni week, and that the negroni is my favorite cocktail, I start a false order of Marta’s famous bottle aged negroni then retract–they’ve got negroni Popsicles; Michelle orders one without missing a beat. Although the order is taken promptly, the frozen bitter favorite takes a while to appear. Finally, someone crosses the spacious dining room holding two water glasses, each with a peach-colored tube inside. A wax-sealed paper tab garnishes each Popsicle. We demur at the prospect of using our glasses but eschew them, going right to the source.
Back come the days of childhood, when you would suck the chemical-juice contents out of a plastic sleeve in the heat. This was like that but better, so much better. A pizza served nearby ellipses the sensation, but it floods back onto the tongue. Soft splinters of ice, the sweet-bitter tang of our favorite drink frozen into solid form. It doesn’t get much more satisfying than that. The view from the curve of the copper bar has always been a good one: the broad marble dining room, mezzanine, the open pizza kitchen and fire licking flames nearby rising dough. A perfect midday haven this side of Midtown.