We tried to go to L'Osteria del Forno last night but it was too crowded so we went across the street to Rose Pistola instead, based on a friend's recommendation (even though I'd never heard much good about it from the hounds!).
All in all, it was good, but not great.
Our waiter was friendly, but did too much explaining of the menu (for example, he explained in great detail that one could choose one of 5 preparations for any of the 6 fish offered, when that seemed extremely clear to me from the menu). I know this is nitpicky of me, but I felt like he should have seen our chowhound souls shining through! Oh, well.
It's a large menu, with lots of tasty-sounding seafood dishes, some meats (which I didn't pay a lot of attention to, since we're trying to go fishetarian), and a few strictly vegetarian options. I was particularly interested in the rabbit dishes - pasta with rabbit bolognese sounded great. But alas...
We chose a bunch of the "small plates":
Chili garlic whole shrimp - neither very chili-y nor very garlicky. We both thought these whole shrimp (heads, shell, and legs on) lacked flavor, though on the plus side they were fresh and perfectly cooked. Just the flavoring was off.
Roasted beet, ricotta salata, fennel, and navel orange salad - the best dish of the evening. The citrus vinaigrette was light and perfectly complemented the combination of flavors in the salad. Cubes of ricotta salata were firm and delicious, fennel was thinly shaved, beets were tender. Darn good.
Sweet pea ravioli with crab meat and mint - because this was under the pasta section of the menu (and RP is ostensibly a Ligurian restaurant) we expected it to come last, but instead it arrived first or second. I thought I would have liked it better at the end, but I think now that I wouldn't have liked it no matter when it came. The ravioli were ordinary - I didn't really taste the sweet peas inside. The mint was bedraggled and sparse (and in fact didn't taste much like mint), and the taste of the crab was overshadowed by a tomato- and olive oil-based sauce that was completely wrong for the other ingredients. It made what could have been a light and summery dish taste wintry and old. Very sad.
Octopus salad with white beans and greens - good, with octopus well-prepared and with a nice texture (not too chewy). Something must have been missing, though, because it just wasn't super-memorable. Maybe it was heart and soul - the whole meal seemed to be lacking that passion or flair that says the chef loves what he/she's doing.
Ahi tuna tartare with avocado - this was served in a large-ish hockey puck shape - half roughly chopped ahi, half avocado mash. Little olive oil-soaked pieces of bread surrounded the main attraction, to be used on which to spread ahi and avocado. This was a nice dish, but again, nothing really outstanding. The ahi was almost completely eclipsed by the delicious and nutty avocado when spread in equal amounts on the bread. Quality ingredients, though.
Nothing on the dessert menu tempted us (this is quite rare) so we didn't get any. Total with a glass of white wine for Ali and a glass of Prosecco for me was about $90 (including tax and tip).
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