In New York (or any big city), where there are so many restaurants to choose from, you have to have some basic criteria for narrowing your options. Chiefly, for the budget minded, there's price. Then there's what sort of cuisine you're in the mood for. Then there's the question of popularity. If a place is empty, you have to wonder: Why aren't more people here? Is the food bad? The service horrible? Did "evidence of rats and/or mice" turn up on the latest Dept. of Health report?
So we went off in search of one new Inwood eatery Saturday night, and -- finding it empty except for the staff and their friends -- we headed elsewhere and happened upon a newly opened Italian restaurant and bar at 233 Dyckman, just above Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters. It's called Il Sole, and it was hopping with people, despite only being open a week so far.
The entree options are your basic Italian fare -- pastas, meat entrees, seafood and veal -- but they were tasty and nicely prepared. Plus, the house wines are only $4-$5 a glass, cheap in a town where they'll charge you $8 without batting an eyelash. We ate at the bar to avoid having to wait. (They claimed it was going to be 45 minutes until a table for two opened up, but I think the hostesses are still getting used to estimating wait times.) The owner was behind the bar, beaming at her early success, although one of the waitresses said it had been practically empty on the weeknights. But that might change soon after the word gets out. The owner said it took 10 months to get from signing to grand opening, and on our way home, I thought about all the details you must have to arrange in that time to get a new business going.