Went Saturday night after seeing a movie. Didn't have reservations, so we had to sit in the bar area - very very smokey, not my fav thing to do but I suffered through it since we'd been wanting to try this place and didn't realize reservations were a necessity (even at 6:30 pm, apparently).
Interestingly, many of the men had on suit jackets, which isn't something you see frequently around here, even on a Saturday night. It certainly doesn't have the feel of being that kind of place, even though there is a sign outside that says "dress attire - casually elegant". Hey, we went in with jeans on and saw plenty of other that way too - so it was an odd mix of clientele.
Not sure how I felt about the whole experience. It seems like it's trying to give you a Tuscan experience however, I can't say anything about it felt that way. A bit pretentious.
Plus it started off somewhat poorly as the waiter was very annoying (too friendly, to the point of touching me frequently) and strangely, the butter we were given for our bread (which was a nice assortment of garlic toast and regular italian bread) had a very peculiar off flavor - kind of chemical, almost as if it were being stored in the smokey bar area, very weird and we mentioned it on the way out to the manager. We tried getting the waiter involved first but he adamently did NOT want to deal with it, saying management won't pay attention to him. We were given a plate of olive oil instead (much preferable) which was kind of bland, didn't taste like anything of good quality.
We split the sausage/broccoli rabe appetizer. Not enough slices of sausage, there certainly wasn't even one whole sausage on the plate, too much broccoli rabe which wasn't trimmed properly, but with a sufficient amount of garlic. The sausage, however, was very good. Not a bad dish, but could have been better.
For our meal, we both ordered a veal dish. Mine was Vitello Bocconcino (chunks of veal in a "honey brown" sauce, with melted small pieces of mozzerella sitting on a bed of garlic sauteed spinach), his Vitello Mosaico (veal cutlet layered with sauteed mushrooms, roasted red peppers, gorganzola chunks, something else, don't remember).
Attractively presented but both tasted remarkably similar - and unmemorable. The sauces were both brown and not flavored properly, were kind of "weak" although the dishes as a whole were ok. Veal was of decent quality, not remarkable, but acceptable. It seemed to us that if you only have 2 veal dishes on a menu, the least you can do is make them entirely different from each other in flavor and appearance.
I had ordered a glass of an old vine zinfindel from a company I never heard of (and still don't) and was surprised to find it was actually quite good and reasonably priced.
Desert was the highlight, a dark chocolate cake with a liquid center, espresso ice cream and a small (hollow) ball of decorated chocolate. Nice presentation. The cake was very good, ice cream didn't have enough coffee flavor but was ok, chocoloate ball was just, a chocolate ball LOL. Also had a latte, which was very good, DH had a coffee, also good.
I couldn't wait to get out of there, because the smoke was beginning to get to me. Seating is quite close in the bar area and the gentlemen across from us had his cigarette lit nearly the whole meal, pointed right at my face (trying to keep it out of his dates at my expense). I didn't complain because I had chosen to sit here, it didn't seem like something I should do.
Anyway, sorry for digressing about the smoke :-) but it's a sore point with me. Hopefully, NJ government will be taking care of this, like NY, shortly.
All in all, kind of an uneven meal, not horrible, but not great let alone the annoying server. For the prices, not sure we'd return. It came out to $79, for 1 appetizer, 2 entrees, 1 glass wine, 1 desert, 2 coffees. Not a wallet-breaker per se, but we didn't think the quality was quite up to the prices and we really didn't care for the whole atmosphere in general.
We might consider trying again, and sitting in the non-smoking dining room, but most likely, won't return. There are far better places we enjoy much more in the area that I'd rather give my money to.
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