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Restaurants & Bars 4

Roberto’s Report

rcc | Mar 22, 2005 09:34 AM

Roberto’s has been one of the most asked about restaurant in this board and yet there’s not much report or review about the restaurant. The reasons for this may be obvious – a notoriously very good restaurant did not need any more reports. However, and inasmuch as I am terrible (and lazy) at writing reports, I figured that it would be a perfect time to write one for this fabled Bronx restaurant.

Last Saturday, on a last minute whim, we arrived at Roberto’s at around 7:30 pm and were subjected to about one-and-a-half hour wait standing by their newly-renovated bar area. It was an extremely busy night with many couples, families and large groups already, or waiting to be, seated.

This is our first time back since the restaurant was renovated. The size and number of tables appear to be the same as before and, admittedly, the new design and decorations with technicolor chandelier, some brick walls, bottles of olive oil lined-up against some of the walls, and somewhat kitschy curtains didn’t do much to distract us from the hedonistic experience that Roberto’s dishes evoked.

As usual, the specials, or the menu of the day, were posted on a blackboard on one of the walls. From past experiences, my wife and I learned that we will not leave hungry even as we share the generous portions of each course at Roberto’s. Hence, for starters, we ordered the Buratta with arugula, halved capers and cherry tomatoes. This was an excellent appetizer with some of the largest fresh capers-on-stalk that I’ve ever seen or eaten. The simply-dressed arugula pairing nicely with the soft texture and good-but-less-creamy taste of the fresh buratta. They sure turned a simple cheese and some salad leaves into one very fine appetizer.

For our next course, we decided to stray from the great pasta dishes that we’ve been accustomed to in this restaurant, and instead ordered the risotto with duck and asparagus. The tasty smoked duck did not have that fatty (and cloying) component and the crunchy asparagus pieces blended very well with the soft-and-chewy rice that was flavored with just right amount of parmigiano cheese. The risotto looks and taste different from most of the other risotto that I’ve had elsewhere, as the rice was not as creamy. It was very good, and to some extent lighter in taste and body, and we both found the smoked duck as one of the best enhancer we’ve ever tasted on risotto.

For out meat dish, we went with an old favorite - the osso buco with polenta. The combination of the heavenly red-sauce, the fork-tender meat and the polenta continue to make this a reliable staple for us at Roberto’s.

We had our dessert and capucino, but I can’t recall what it was we had as I feel that the very satisfying savory dishes that we have always overwhelm any dessert that we’ve ever had in this restaurant.

Saturday night proved to be an excellent night of very good Italian dining as it was a well-spent night even as we endured the drive all the way from midtown and the Saturday night bumper-to-bumper at the Cross Bronx Expressway.

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