I was told what a wonderful job the MARC group did changing the old Gaia space. Well, I was ready for this huge change when I walked through the door. After living all but 15 years of my life in the area I found it hard to believe that this space that has been the home of many different establishments over the years could really change its interior. And I was right. Yes they moved the bar and yes the chairs and booths had all been reupholstered but the space is the same. Not a bad thing but it's very hard to change it all that much.
The food on the other hand is much more exciting. It's early and there are some misses but I will have to hand it to them, our dinner last night was superb! I will start with the lone disappointment. One the menu was an intriguing take on what I thought was frisée with lardons salad. It was described as sautéed trumpet mushrooms w/parsley and I can't remember the other ingredient. It was just that. A small, and I mean SMALL amount of nicely cooked trumpet. And they were covered w/a poached egg. Sometimes simplicity works in a dish like this...problem is you need more than a couple of slivers of trumpet mushrooms to make it work. Nothing bad just needs more.
The Hamachi with simply dressed field greens was very good. I will not give this dish an excellent rating simply for the amount of fish. Although nowhere near as bad as the trumpet mushrooms I feel they could have added another piece or 2 to make this an excellent appetizer. Very refreshing and the dressing in no way masked the flavor of the Hamachi.
My friend had the seared sea scallops. From all indications they were great. They looked like the were cooked perfectly and my friend was VERY happy.
On to the pastas. In 1 word...EXTRAORDINARY!!! I had the pasta shaped like Casarecce (they called it something else, can't remember) w/a bolognese sauce. In a nut shell...OMG!!! I love a good bolognese and this, quite simply, was better than any I have had, including Italy. My companion had a gnocchi that were impossibly light while the mushroom pancetta sauce was a perfect compliment of earthy surreal delight. The bolognese was so good that we decided to share another.
The final entrée that I ordered was the cod. My lone criticism of this dish was that itself...the dish that the cod was served. It came in a big black cast iron dish that was more suitable for a steak. The cod itself was perfectly cooked (although I would have preferred the skin to be more crispy. And it may have well been but when we ordered the extra pasta bolognese they may have held the cod until the pasta was ready. No proof of that just a feeling.). There were a handful (4-6) little neck clams with the slight amount of cream sauce, very slight. Would rank this dish as very good to excellent.
And lastly, I hope Morello makes it. There are varying estimates on what they pay in rent ranging from a person I know saying "he knows" they pay $24,000 a month to a post on CH stating that they pay $38,000. How on earth can a restaurant survive in a contracting economy paying either amount???