Our Gourmet: Shorter menu would help with consistency
We hadn't been inside the place in several years, so we were looking forward to finding out how things had changed in its latest iteration.
As we said, it's a little restaurant — fairly tight quarters inside, with a dozen or so tables and booths on the main floor but a larger space downstairs. The night we were there, there were no more than three other parties in the entire place, so space was not an issue. Noise, however, was, thanks to a combination of loud background music, a lack of sound-absorbing materials and a boisterous neighbor. The decor isn't especially Italian; in fact, with the blond woodwork and furnishings, gloss white stucco walls and relatively bright lighting, it could pass for a breakfast place.
Our Gourmet: The dinner menu is extensive — so long that we needed to place our appetizer order to stall for time while we continued to winnow our choices. I chose Funghi Tiberio ($9.75), a half-dozen mushroom caps each filled with escargot and Romano cheese on garlic spinach with a lemon butter sauce over all. It was a savory, slightly tangy combination that made for a great starting course. 8/10
Our Teenage Bottomless Pit has taken a shine to crabcakes, so he chose Polpettine Di Granchio Con Salatina Verde (Crispy crab cakes with tartar sauce over baby greens, $9.50). We were all a little disappointed with this offering; the cakes were an unappetizing grayish color; they were far from crispy, and while tasty, they seemed a bit heavy on the fillers. Not the best opener; TBP rated them a 6/10.
The Dining Companion: I chose the Fritto Misto Alla Italiana ($9.50), a breaded and fried combination of calamari and vegetables served with a spicy tomato sauce. Although the breading on the calamari was heavier than I like, the entire plate was quite good, and I thought this was the best dipping tomato sauce I've tasted in quite a while — better than the marinara sauces my companions have raved about in the past few reviews. This dish shared the same unfortunate gray color as TBP's crabcakes, but it was very tasty. 8/10
OG: The middling appetizers left us (me, at least) with some trepidation about the main courses to come. But the first bite of my Filetto dell Forestiero ($22) pushed those misgivings right out of my head.
A 10-ounce grilled filet of beef, which I ordered medium rare, was luscious and tender. The filet was wrapped in pancetta and topped with asparagus and a round of fresh mozzarella, and it was all capped with a thick, rich, dark port wine sauce studded with mushrooms. If it's possible for a sauce to outshine a wonderful piece of beef, this one did, and it made for a fabulous dish. 9/10
TBP ordered Cuore ($19.95), a chicken cutlet topped with slices of Italian sausage, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, eggplant, spinach, and onions in a cream sauce. Truth be told, it was the idea of chicken and sausage sharing space on his plate that attracted the boy's attention. The artichokes, etc.? Not so much. But altogether, “It was wicked good,” he said, and the few bites we got to share led us to similar reviews. 9/10
TDC: This is the part I just don't get — how can a pasta dish in an Italian restaurant be bland? It wasn't bad, but it is absolutely something I'd not order again. I had told our waitress I was overwhelmed by the menu and asked for her suggestions. I ordered her favorite pasta dish, the Penne Giardino ($13.95)— chicken sauteed with broccoli, garlic, basil, and virgin olive oil, tossed with fresh tomatoes and parmigiano cheese — with the optional alfredo sauce. I think they forgot the alfredo, as my “sauce” was a separated Parmigiano cheese and oil base. But the most disappointing part was the amount of salt I had to add to the dish to get any flavor. I tasted both OG's and TBP's entrees and loved both, so how could mine be so uninspired? Once TBP polished off the meats in his dish, we swapped plates and I savored the richness of his meal (a definite 9) as he finished my pasta. 6/10
OG: I ordered the tiramisu — one of our “who's got the best” staples — and this was a good one, rich and moist. The plating was very attractive, but the accompanying chocolate sauce overshadowed the coffee flavor you'd expect. What should have been a drizzle of sauce was more like a rain. 7/10
TBP ordered a slice of freshly baked apple pie with vanilla ice cream and a little chocolate sauce. The crust was flaky and delicate, and the boy said the apples were done perfectly. 9/10 TDC: And I had a chocolate cake to die for. This actually made me forget my disappointing entree and want to come back the next night for appetizers and dessert!
Service was good; our server was friendly, and the very personable chef (and, we assume, owner) brought our entrees to the table. Overall, we liked Luna Caprese, but we think they need to work on consistency. Perhaps a slightly shorter menu would help. If all the dishes were as good as two of our entrees, this place would be a gem.
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