I feel like I need to talk to someone about this. I ate at Altadonna last night, and was so disappointed that I fear that I've undergone some kind of psychological shift - I found myself disgustedly complaining about things I never even give a second thought to, like the creepy blue lighting and portions being too large.
After months of cancelled plans, I finally went there, excitedly remembering eating in Sicily. We started with caponata, which was decent but nothing more. OK, so it's not mid summer and the eggplant wasn't going to be amazing, but this just lacked something. It was sweet, it was sour, there was some celery, some decent-tasting oil, etc. - all the components, but none of the sun's soul.
Then we split an order of pasta con sarde for our midcourse. The size was astonishing - each of our bowls could easily have been a full order anywhere else. This was far from a complaint, until I took my first whiff. The sardines gave off a wildly fishy smell, way past the scent of the sea and more like the scent of a seaman's socks. Still, certain bites were fine, if also uninspired in flavor - the fennel too muted and all bathed in a tomato base, which I've never seen in this dish. But add to this the overcooked pasta, and the steaming bowl was an oppressive mess.
Then to Meatworld. My partner's tripe was actually pretty good, tender but still retaining some bite, the olives and tomatoes strong. It was a little salty, but with a bit of the stale bread they were serving us, she didn't mind too much. My bracciole, though, was a real bummer. Again, I've never seen a plate that was too big to like, but this thing was the size of a child's arm. Like, Jason Giambi's child. "Hey, more for tomorrow," I'd usually say, except that this thing was tough, dry, severely bland, and guess what? Too big to be heated through properly. I took three bites, tried one of the doughy, tough, gummy gnocchi it came with, sighed and put down my fork.
Now I have to think about what I can do to the sixteen pounds of cold bracciole sitting in my fridge to make it worth eating.
Someone please tell me Newsday's pick for the best restaurant in my fair borough isn't really like this.