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Super Plate XLVIII

No one knows yet which teams will be playing in this year’s Super Bowl or whether the linebackers will be blitzing in a blizzard or whether the quarterbacks will carry miniature flame throwers to keep their hands from getting frost bite.  But for those deep-pocket sports fans planning to attend, they have more things in mind than football and the Vince Lombardi trophy.  Many of these high-profile high rollers are already lining up where they will eat when they are town. And restaurateurs are getting ready for them – preparations that will concentrate as much on seating charts as they will on menus. 


Other cities know what this is like.  Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, San Diego, even Jacksonville and Indianapolis are among the cities with warm weather or hot domes to have hosted a Super Bowl.  But one has never before landed in New York, by far America’s restaurant capital. 


We chatted with one NYC restaurant crew located in the thick of this culinary combat zone.


With Fox Sports, which will televise the game, located next door along the Avenue of the Americas and with fellow steakhouse managers from around the country phoning in customer requests, New York Del Frisco’s general manager Scott Gould says he is gearing up for the week leading to February 2, no matter which two NFL teams show up for the first cold-weather Super Bowl – being staged across the Hudson at the Meadowlands – and no matter what inclement weather the Gods might hurl at them.


And his maître d’, Felix Albano, who has been manning the front desk at the restaurant since it opened 13 years ago, is running through his mental iPad of who demands a showplace table and who wants to hide on the periphery of the elegant dining room.  “Through the years I’ve built up an emotional bank account with the celebrity handlers who make most of the reservations,” Albano says proudly.  “They know there won’t be paparazzi outside, and they know I’ll never call Page Six,” the celebrity section of New York Post.

Similar conversations are being held, and preparations being made, at all the trendy dining spots in uptown Manhattan, Soho, Chinatown and across the river in food-revitalized Brooklyn – guess who will be coming to dinner, and how will we get ready for them?


Among the preparations:  Del Frisco says it will set aside a few more tables, keep in touch with hotel concierges who may be steering guests their way and decide the strategies for handling each VIP party when it shows up.  “It’s my job to size them up, to see what kind of a mood they’re in,” Albano says.  “And we instruct the staff to be friendly, but not familiar.”  As for autograph seeking diners, Gould sniffs that seldom is a problem with Del Frisco’s class of clientele.


And while everyone talks about number of hotel rooms when decisions are being made as to which city is awarded a future Super Bowl, great restaurant seats are just as important.  And with the NFL talking about eventually having a team in London or elsewhere abroad, can having a foreign Super Bowl in Europe be that far off?  Perhaps London?  I think not. 


When great meals go with great football, Super Bowl LX in Paris gets my vote.

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