Communal Tables


I was so entranced by <a href=”″ target=”_blank”> Heat, </a> Bill Buford’s book about learning to cook Italian from masters, that I’ve been craving pasta, even in the summer weather. Buford’s chapters on life in the kitchen at <a href=” ” target=”_blank”> Mario Batali’s Babbo, </a> had me dreaming about some of the dishes I’ve had there, like mint love letters and beef cheek ravioli.

Well, I couldn’t get a reservation at Babbo, so we headed to <a href=”” target=”_blank”> Lupa, </a> one of Batali’s more casual restaurants. We got there plenty early, but we still weren’t able to snag a table without waiting unless we headed for the communal table.


Ugh. The Communal Table. Seems to me the only time you’d want that is if you had a party of 10 with you, and could take up nearly the whole thing. As it was, when we sat down, two snotty tourists turned up their nose at the hostess, saying: “Don’t sit them here.”

“Sorry sir,” said the hostess — a perky blond with a pretty dress. “This is a commual table.”

Luckily, they left shortly after and our party of three was able to take the head of the table and the two seats on either side of it. It felt a little more private, even if it was just an illusion.

It’s funny — I hate sitting at a communal table, but I adore sitting at the bar for dinner. It’s just as communal, but I don’t feel bad about sharing the space. Is it the bartender, giving everyone something to focus on? Or is it that at the bar, diners are more friendly and apt to strike up a conversation?

I can only think of a few communal tables around here — Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro in Rye comes to mind — and to me, that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want to sit at them anyway.


About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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