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Restaurants & Bars 1


Rachelhope | Jun 2, 1999 10:57 AM

Visited this restaurant (at fifth and Carroll?) which
bills itself as Venetian last week. Al-di-La uses its
corner location to best advantage, the two street-side
walls are dominated by windows, the walls are light in
color, the space feels open and airy but not
boring-minimalist -- the room centers around a
beautiful antique Murano glass chandelier which the
owner says belonged to his grandmother. It is a feat
of imagination reconstructing how the chandelier ever
made it in one piece to America. The tables are
thickly-varnished rough wood, odd antiques dot the room
(yet it avoids the dangers of over-decoration). The
food is as delightful as the room, simple in execution
but perfect. Went as party of four; we ordered two
apps - the grilled sardines in a fennel-olive sauce,
and the house salad which is quite like a nicoise but
with salmon rather than tuna. The waiter (not at any
bequest by us) was kind enough to split the salad onto
two plates for me and my mother, and each portion was a
fair size on its own. The dressing relied on lemon
rather than vinegar giving the salad a very fresh and
light taste. At the table to my right, a man ordered
the garlic soup and although I resisted the urge to ask
for a spoonful, it too looked great. For entrees, two
in the party ordered the beet ravioli. The ravioli was
made from the thinnest sheets of pasta, the beet
filling had a vivid bright taste. Dressing the ravioli
was simply warm butter and poppy seeds. Again, a
simple but perfectly executed dish. I had pork, which
like the ravioli relied primarily on butter to impart
taste; it was served with potatoes somewhere between
hash-browns and oven roasted. The fourth entree was a
mixed grill with chicken livers, pancetta, and pork. A
really interesting combination because the chicken
livers imparted a nutty flavor to its neighbors on the
skewer. One dessert shared at the table, a small
deep-dish of strawberry crisp with a generous
tablespoonful of whipped cream. This food is rich,
do not visit if on a diet. Add one twenty-dollar
bottle of wine and the meal came to $115.00 altogether
-- the entrees hovered around $11.00. My only
complaint: they don't have a reservation system and we
had to wait over an hour to get a table. I think that
their seating system is catered to couples, if they had
held off from seating some of the two-tops I think they
could have sat us earlier. There is a bar across the
street where you can wait. Also, I think the crowds
are erratic so if you show up on a lucky night, or as
only a couple, I don't think it would be that bad.

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