We were four at Agostino on Saturday night.
The evening started very well. Our waiter was excellent: very gracious, hospitable and professional. And he knew the food. He brought bread quickly. Not just bread. Some of the best crusty rustic Italian loaf I have had in some time. This very fresh bread was served with extra virgin olive oil. I emphasize extra virgin, because some "Italian" restaurants (such as Ferraro and probably others) have a totally nasty habit of serving regular olive oil (cooking oil) with their bread. Often they gussy it up with some herbs, garlic, or chilis. But it's still cooking oil and I think it's unforgiveable. Anyhow, enough about the damn bread.
I started with the steame shrimp and clams in a basil and chili tomato broth. Very nice: fresh, flavourful, lemony, a bit spicy (fresh chilis used). The portion was too small. (Franco, that's a compliment, sort of).
Then, I had the handmade ravioli with ricotta, asparagus, in a brown butter. The butter was not brown. It was just melted butter. But, the dish was still pretty good although lacking any "bite" or "tang". The pasta was very nicely made. But, the butter should have been brown and I think the dish is missing something. I don't know what. Something to give a bit of contrast to the very mild subtlety of it all. I realize that this dish is supposed to be light and subtle in flavours, but it was downright meek.
My wife had an absolutely gorgeous and incredibly delicious chargrilled octopus salad, with fingerling potatoes, and near-candied red onions. It was darn near perfect. She is still talking about it, and she's no foodie per se.
My main course was the veal parmigiano special, served with spaghetti pomodoro on the side. Well, again, the portion was a tad miserly. To me, Italian food is generous in every way, including the portion. The veal was delicate, thin and slight. The pasta was nicely done. The dish was somewhat undistinguised but tasty. For $24 I can get a veal parmigiano twice the size at a more downscale Italian eatery.
The menu features a number of whole fish dishes which looked very good as they left the kitchen. And, they were asking twenty-something dollars for these dishes which seems like a better value than my meal.
I will return to this restaurant, but not because my meal was fabulous. It's because I think that there is a lot of potential in this restaurant. The owner and staff care a lot, and it shows. There is some very good food going on here which I think will grow and change. I am looking forward to this place as it develops.