Last night we went to Aquaviva in Westfield for our Valentine's Day dinner. We'd been there only a couple of times before, but remembered having lovely meals each time.
First of all, I didn't realize the restaurant is as large as it is. We sat in the front room both times prior and while I knew there was another room, apparently beyond that there was yet another and...an upstairs! Now I understand why we've never had a problem getting a table here.
The atmosphere is warm, romantic and inviting. They had a man playing soft guitar music in the lobby area. We were promptly taken to our table, which was a round table-for-two. The table, however, probably was more for 4 and we felt we were too far from each other so we were easily moved to another table more conducive to conversation. This table seemed oversized as well, I do think they are a bit bigger than the ones in the front of the restaurant.
We were given a small plate of bruscetta, a few olives, and a couple of slices of salami (or maybe soppresta?). I think they also meant to give us a chunk of parmesean cheese, as we saw it on the set-up table for this service when we were leaving, but no big deal if we didn't. We'd just remember to ask for it next time. A cruet of olive oil was already on the table, it was of decent quality, with some herbs floating in it. A basket of good italian bread was also presented.
We were given the menu, which is quite extensive. I guess it would be considered mostly northern italian but I use the term of italian loosely in this case, as the preprations are not classically italian in style.
Each night they have specials on top of the main menu and also offer special wines by the glass in addition to their house glasses. Wine list is quite large too. My only problem with the wines by the glass is there was no red zinfindel choice, which is always my favorite but this may just have been last night, because there were a couple of bottles of it on the regular wine menu.
I opted for just a glass of a Sterling Pinot Noir, my husband opted to abstain as he had a bit of a headache brewing. It was very good, I don't know if it said the year but it was a fuller bodied Pinot than many, which I prefer to the lighter bodied ones. The wine stood up fine to my cheese and seafood choices, even though it was a red.
On to the food. I chose as my appetizer the ricotta spinach crepes. These were remarkably light (there were two on the plate), delicate and had a parmesean cream sauce on the plate, along with a rosette of pureed carrots. I could have been happy having this as my meal. Really outstanding.
My husband had the mushroom soup, which was all about the mushrooms. Very earthy, no apparent flavor of anything else except the pureed mushrooms. I thought it was tasty, but somewhat bland. I'm sure a good sprinkle of fresh pepper would have taken care of that.
My entree was grilled shrimp and scallops over a vegetable risotto. The shellfish was very fresh and they were of good sizes. The risotto was great, full of small chunks of vegetables (carrots, zucchini, not sure what else) and the flavor of seafood broth and parmesean really came through. The risotto itself was cooked properly, with just a bit of chewiness in the center.
My husband had opted for the tournadoes of beef with blue cheese, garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. I believe it was filet mignon, maybe not but suffice it to say it was very tender. It came as two filets, crumbled blue cheese on top (probably about 4 oz each, he only ate one). I tried it, it was very tasty, loved the blue cheese with it. My husband said the mashed potatoes could have used more garlic but they were fine anyway.
For desert, I had a lemon zabligone in a pine nut crust tart with a honey sauce on the side. The lemon really was zingy to say the least. The first bite was almost overwhelming, but in an enjoyable way. The zabligone was more like a meringue texture, very light and fluffy and the tart itself was very flakey. The honey sauce cut the tartness of the lemon flavor nicely.
My husband had a fresh pear and fig struedel - very good but we both agreed that mine was a lot better. I didn't finish my tart - was too full at that point but he polished off for me LOL. Never let a good desert go to waste. He had a regular coffee, I had a latte - the espresso was very flavorful.
All in all, a very solid meal, good service other than the waiter for the neighboring table almost setting the couple near us on fire! He bumped into the candle which they had placed in a tall wine glass. It knocked over on to the tablecloth and if they hadn't been so quick to scramble I think it and the women seated there may have gone up in flames. This is management's fault, the candles are placed in VERY unsafe receptables and should be votives, certainly not tapered candles placed into wine glasses. I really should have mentioned this on the way out, because our waiter was having trouble manuevering around the one on our table too.
Anyway, the meal came out to about $120ish with tip and tax, for 1 glass wine, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 deserts, 1 coffee, 1 latte. We had a lovely evening and we'll have to remember to visit here more often.