Good Italian fare for a hungry family
C.C. Tomatoes209 Fisherville Road, Concord;
Serving: Lunch and dinner seven days.
Cuisine: Casual, family-style Italian
Prices: Appetizers $5-$11; dinners $11-$18.
First lesson: You can’t always judge a restaurant by its website. The photos on C.C. Tomatoes’ site led some of us to expect something along the lines of a bright, fluorescent-lit “House of Pizza” kind of place.
Wrong. We found a warm, inviting dining room with deep burgundy walls, soft lighting, and booth and table seating for 60 people or so. A bar/lounge area is to the right of the entrance. All in all, a very pleasant, comfortable dinner spot.
Second lesson: Just because a place has chili cheese fries on the appetizer menu doesn’t mean you have to order them. This was the hard lesson learned by our Teenage Bottomless Pit, who, at long last, finally met a meal he couldn’t conquer, thanks mainly to that voluminous appetizer.
The menu had many appetizers — many of which we would categorize as “bar food staples” and not especially Italian. TBP couldn’t resist starting with the Chili Cheese Fries ($5.95), a big oval plate of french fries topped with a meaty, beany chili and cheese.
The fries themselves were tasty, dredged through a dry seasoning and cheese coating.
Though we warned TBP to pace himself and leave some to take home, he didn’t listen. 7/10 Our Gourmet: TDC and I opted to share the C.C.
Sampler ($10.95), a breaded, deep-fried sampling of raviolis, cheese balls, green beans, and eggplant with a marinara dipping sauce.
I thought the eggplant, cut in julienne strips, was mouthwateringly good: sweet, salty and nicely complemented by the marinara sauce. The green beans were good as well, but I thought the breadcrumb coating on both vegetables was a little too heavy and crunchy; I would have liked to see a lighter, more delicate coating on both.
The Dining Companion: I like fried ravioli and thought these were quite good. Although I agree that the breadcrumb coating on the vegetables was a bit much, I think the green beans’ flavor was still able to shine through. The cheese balls were a perfect pop of ooey-gooey cheesy goodness. 6/10
Third lesson: If a place offers soup and salad as accompaniments to the entree, think long and hard before you order an appetizer as well, or be prepared to pack most of your entree home as leftovers.
OG: For the second round of appetizers – the one that was included with the entree – I opted for the house salad. Very basic, with iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber and olive. Nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing worth ordering if it weren’t included. 5/10
TDC: I decided to try the sausage soup. It was chock-full of a delicious Italian sausage in a tasty broth. The first few spoonfuls were wonderful, but as I continued, saltiness started to overpower the soup, and I came to the point where it was just too salty to finish. 6/10
TBP decided to get the tomato and basil soup, a cream-style soup topped with croutons and shredded cheese. The flavor was mild tomato with a little too much cheese for OG’s taste, but TBP thought it was great, and staying true to form, he finished the last drop. 8/10
Main Course: 22/30
OG: I ordered Tuscan Boscaiola ($14.95): tortellini blended with Italian sausage, diced tomatoes, sliced Portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, spinach and fresh sage in rustic cream sauce. I obviously wasn’t paying full attention when I read the menu, because when the food arrived I was surprised by the presence of the tri-color cheese tortellini.
The tomato cream sauce was a nice counter to the spicy sausage slices and rich mushrooms. The flavors were wonderful, but it all was a bit heavy due, I think, to the tortellini. I would love to try the same dish served over linguini instead. As it was, I ate about a third before boxing it up to take home. 8/10
TDC: I ordered the Seafood Alfredo ($17.95), fresh sea scallops, shrimp and crabmeat tossed with fettuccine in an alfredo sauce. When the plate arrived I knew that most of it would be coming home — there was enough for two meals. The alfredo sauce was rich and delicious, but I was very disappointed in the shrimp and scallops (I didn’t see/taste any crabmeat). Both tasted like they were quickly steamed and then placed gently on top of the fettuccine alfredo — there was no hint of spices, no melding of flavors with the sauce, just flat. 6/10 TBP decided to order the C.C. Taste of Italy ($15.95), consisting of Fettuccine Alfredo, homemade meat lasagna and chicken parmesan over vermicelli.
Having already polished off a massive plate of french fries and chili plus a cup of rich, creamy soup, one look at the overflowing plate of food set in front of him and he knew he’d met his match. He was able to eat most of the chicken parmesan, which he thought was very good, but had to box the rest. 9/10
All the rest: 9/10
Ironically, we all found the booth at which we were seated a bit tight as we first sat down.
Little did we know it’d be much tighter by the time we left!
One good thing about taking so much of our entrees home was that we didn’t have to make any snap judgments about them. We worked on the leftovers over several nights that week, and enjoyed them every time.
C.C. Tomatoes’ menu is extensive: In addition to the Italian dinner standards, there are a host of pizza, calzone, seafood and burger options as well.
The food is good, the servings are more than ample, and the prices are reasonable. It’s a great spot to bring a family or friends for an informal dinner.
Just go easy on the appetizers.
Total score: 73/100
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