First, in the category of "visiting an old haunt," I booked a table for me and my significant-other at Il Cantinori, an Italian restaurant in the Village. The restaurant caught some free publicity years ago from an episode of "Sex and the City" when Carrie celebrates her 35th birthday by dining there.
It had been 12 years since I'd eaten there. I had fond memories of taking a friend out to dinner there. It's noteworthy when any restaurant in NYC has the staying power to last 10-plus years, and I was curious about whether Il Cantinori was still preparing solid meals.
The food was still good. Not great, but definitely good. The wine list was very reasonably priced, and I give them big points for that.
If anything had changed in those 12 years, it was the whole vibe of the place. Instead of the Il Cantinori that was fairly quiet and slightly formal in the mid-1990s, the present-day restaurant is loud and hip (at least during dinner). Recorded rock and hip-hop music cascaded throughout the restaurant.
Il Cantinori is also rather dark at night with lighting so soft that you have a hard time reading the menu.
It's always interesting to see how owners try to redefine a restaurant to appeal to new crowds or to reintroduce the place to the dining public.