My husband and I have been living in the general vicinity of Westfield for several years. Decided to try La Spezia, on South Avenue East this past weekend for the first time and had a mostly lovely meal.
Although the strip mall location isn't the best, and decor is typical of these type of restaurants, the food was near outstanding.
It's very authentic italian. We were brought a couple of pieces of brushetta to start. Oh and by the way, the house bread is very good too. I had a deep fried polenta cake with mushroom sauce as a starter, my husband had a really great salad with incredibly fresh ingredients.
I had their evening fish special - a whole branzino (sea bass) which was pan seared then finished off in the oven, with, if I remember correctly, a sherry caperberry sauce on the side. Husband had veal cutlet with a mushroom sauce - it was very tender, not a spec of any grizzle. Both came with mashed potatoes, and sauteed veggies.
We split a tartufo for desert (chocolate and vanilla ice cream ball enrobed in chocolate, with the prerequisite cherry/almond middle).
We were amazed at the numerous specials that night - each sounded better than the one before it. It's a BYOB place, as most restaurants in the area are. All of the staff are pleasant and service was attentive and informed and, the Chef ("Chef Ed") came out to greet diners and introduce himself and he seemed a bit of a character, in a good way. . Only 2 minor comments a) Side dishes came out 1/2 hot, 1/2 cold. Don't understand how that happened, but of course, had we said anything they would have gladly warmed them up for us.
The other thing was my husband found something in his meal, which was certainly not veal related.
I thought it looked like a piece of a cooked shrimp shell. We called over the waitress to have a look and she said exactly the same thing. Not a disaster by any means - I mean it was a food item apparently, it wasn't like a bandaid or a bug was in it LOL, but... it does show a bit of carelessness in the kitchen. Or, just a fluke, which we'd prefer to think since the quality of the meal in general was much better than many places in the area, and certainly more innovative for italian cuisine.
All in all, we enjoyed ourselves, the little problem above hasn't scared us away. We were given a 20% coupon to be used during a weekday and do intend to go back again for sure. Dinner was not cheap for this type of atmosphere, with tip and tax it came out to about $85 but that was only because my fish dish was $30 (it's the same price for that particular fish anywhere else I've had it in the past, including NYC). Plus, you're not getting your typical run-of-the-mill italian food, this has thought behind it and creativity.
We look forward to going back soon.
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