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Il Grano and Peppone - A Study in Contrasts

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Il Grano and Peppone - A Study in Contrasts

TomSwift | May 23, 2005 12:42 PM

I wasn't going to post about Il Grano but after dining at Peppone the next night (Sunday) I'm compelled. First, Il Grano. We started with a special fritto misto of rock shrimp, calimari, white fish and baby zucchini. Very lightly battered and served piping hot. Excellent. A brief hiccup when the tomato-basil sauce arrived about 5 minutes after the dish, but was this sauce to die for. Extremely light, not thick, with vibrant flavors and a tomato taste that made me think that is was late June. The sauce was steaming. When I asked if we could buy a quart of it to go, Steve, our waiter, told us that each sauce portion is "made to order, not ladled from a pot" but that we could special order if we wanted to.

Mrs. Swift's pan-sauteed King salmon was medium-rare, with a crispy skin any sushi chef would envy. My special house-made taglierini with black summer truffles was perfectly cooked, but needed some salt. Stephano was generous when shaving the truffle. Unfortunately, I didn't keep track of prices.

The next night, Peppone. We started with the calimari fritti ($17.50). It arrived only luke warm, which we didn't expect. It had heavy battering, which we did expect. But no tentacles (my favorite). The marinara sauce also was only luke warm and obviously was ladled from a pot. This was a good sturdy sauce which should have been served steaming hot, and we normally like it a lot, but in comparison to Il Grano's made-to-order sauce it lost big time. We both had the scampi diavolo ($29.75), which is one of our favorite dishes there. The pasta always has been perfectly al dente and the shrimp never overcooked. I guess our waiter, CP (the son of the chef/owner) had a bad night. I repeated the order to him 3 times, asking for penne instead of veggies. So here comes the table-side service and the runner has veggies, not penne. We point out the error and he wisks the skillet away and returns in 1-1/2 minutes with the shrimp in the marvelous diavolo sauce with penne. That was awfully fast so I asked him if they par-boil their pasta in advance. Yes, he says, and they finish it to order. I guess in their haste to get the dish on the table they didn't take quite the time necessary to cook the penne al dente - it was chewy and gummy. Not edible then but will be great reheated for lunch today. And of course the shrimp continued to cook in the hot diavolo sauce (truly a delicious sauce) so it was rubbery and overcooked. At these prices we expect much better.

However. We frequest Peppone because of the 90+ year old in-laws. During dinner CP promised the MIL a hug and a kiss, and when we left both he and the host followed us outside (to the nearby handicapped space) and fussed over her and gave her the promised hug & kiss. She was thrilled and talked about it all the way home. For that kind of attention we will endure occasionally unacceptable food at outrageously high prices every 2 weeks.

Go to Not About Food for my inquiry about how the botched pasta order should have been handled.

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