140 Fulton St.
Nov. 29, 2006
At this point I was feeling that forces much larger than me were in control. I had inadvertently neglected to call Carmine's in advance, only to find a closure notice from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on the door dated Oct 10th (glad I didn't start this tour two months earlier!). Caruso's was next on the list and responded favorably to the exploratory phonecall - I found myself staring over a 30 foot construction moat at an empty green white and red sign background with little holes spelling out "C a r u s o ' s" at what used to be 204 broadway. Felix came along for take 2 of day 20 and while I was fumbling with googletext he consulted a random person who pointed down Fulton St. Sure enough, Caruso's 2.0 awaited us in it's full neon and marble spendor.
The inside was heavily neoned and marbled. Two 4-ft high caricature-chefs guarded the entrance. Very 1980's; a pink and green border around the ceiling that according to Felix did not adequately convey the intended Italian flag color abstraction due mainly to the shade of pink. French wine paintings adorned the extremely desaturated subtly green-patterned walls. The dropceiling was festooned with sunken floodlights, and a smattering of high color temperature uplights which looked like stone stepped flowerpots sticking out of the wall just added to the overall sterility of the decor. I did a double-take at the enigmatic statue atop the glass pizza cases - rounded but still overall conical white cap, black mask - whaaa??? Apparently a Venetian mask statue according to Felix.
They have two lines, one for pizza and one for everything else, and a separate register for each line. Although bustling, it was quite efficient and I didn't feel I wasted much time ordering and paying. Pretty full at 12:45. Caruso's seats 40 and there were roughly 33 folks enjoying moderately priced Italian food that turned out to be moderately good. Everything in moderation at Caruso's, except for the neon and the uneasy feeling that the 1990's and early 2000's never happened.