I was just a teeny bit nervous about dining here last night to celebrate my birthday, but being in walking distance to our apartment and given the occasion, decided to go for it. We were treated really well from the second we approached the place, when an elderly man sitting at a sidewalk table greeted us. We were told to take any table in the place and had menus and water within seconds. The olive oil they serve with their bread was really wonderful.
Wednesday night they do indeed offer their prix fixe, although they don't exactly advertise it. For $30, you get your choice of appetizer, entree or pasta, and dessert. A pretty amazing deal, considering the prices on the menu. The reasonably priced wine list was most welcome.
We started with the beef carpaccio and the insalata di funghi. The carpaccio was thicker than you find at most restaurants, but had a really delicious beefy flavor. The mushroom salad was a little weird - cold, wet mushrooms are not all that appealing, actually - but they were served on a bed of frisee which was placed on a bed of prosciutto, and when all was tasted together, it was more than the sum of its parts.
For entrees, we went with the two most frequently recommended dishes: the Fettucine al Alfredo (the one prepared tableside in the cheese wheel) and the short ribs. Both were genuinely delicious and well-prepared. The fettucine is absurdly rich and very cheesy - but its interesting in that its strongly flavored of cheese without actually eating a lot of cheese (you can easily pick out the chunks of parmesan to control the cheese consumption). The tableside preparation was a fun flourish, but while they were going through the tossing, the short ribs and potatoes lost a lot of heat. Still, we really, really enjoyed them.
For dessert, I had house-made strawberry gelato and my husband had the raspberry tart. Both were nice, but I would recommend the gelato - besides, after such a heavy meal, its about all one can stomach!
The water thing really didn't bother me, as that is how its done in Italy (which, of course, has some of the best municipal water in Europe). The first bottle was on the house, the second one was $4.
There was live entertainment - a very expressive singer/guitar player delivering light-rock classics - but I think it just added to the quirkiness and I found it amusing.
The total at the end of the night - two three course meals, two bottles of wine and one bottle of water - $160. The service was fine, no complaints at all. We will definitely be back, even if its just for pizzas or appetizers.
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