Until a short while ago, Michael and Louise Esposito’s basement-level BYOB was spoken about by people who know things, and then only in whispers and hand gestures. It wasn’t a place you or I had heard of. It was definitely not somewhere you’d sacrifice all kinds of hours on the phone and most of your pride, begging for a table for two at any night, any time at all.
But now that A.C. has tasted the big time, all secrets are up for grabs — Chef Vola’s among them. Here’s the deal. Frank Sinatra has eaten here. So have Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles. And you will, too, if you 1) can get past the endless busy signal and 2) can get a reference from a regular.
Once you do go, you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. The place is below-ground level of the kind of old city seashore houses that have mostly given way to parking garages in these parts. The tablecloths and napkins are beauty-shop pink. And the servers, when they recite the specials, seem to be paying attention to anyone but you. Still, once you’re in, you’re in, privy to the intensely garlicky clams over linguine, bright marinara on a the biggest veal chop you’ve ever seen, saucer-sized crab cakes radiant with olive oil, and, even though you won’t have room for them, Louise’s famous desserts, made from scratch and her grandmother’s recipes.