Tried this recreation of the famous climactic dinner scene in the movie "Big Night" (one of my favorite food-themed movies) at Grotto. In short, it was all very good, an excellent value, and way too much food.
Greeted with good EVOO, bread, and olives. Next came an antipasto: piles of prosciutto, lemony goat cheese crostini, and prosciutto-wrapped roasted figs. Then a large shallow bowl of chicken consomme, very clear and strong-tasting broth, with a few slices of underdone carrot. Three risotti next: a seafood (scallop, shrimp, lobster), a vegetarian (pesto), and a duck with wild mushrooms (the best flavor and most perfect texture of the three).
The signature timpano was next, huge wedges of what must have been a tom-tom sized baked pasta drum stuffed with ziti, polpetti, cheeses, hardboiled eggs, and some salumi, with a really fabulous marinara on the side. Feeling stuffed yet? So was I. But there was plenty more: roasted vegetables, arranged Cobb-salad-like on the plate: parsnip, potatoes, artichokes, mushroom, and asparagus. I loved this presentation, will use it for my own dinner parties.
Finally, the meat courses: a perfect roast lemon chicken (my favorite), roast sucking pig (which the chef had taken on a display tour of the dining room earlier in the evening, impressive), beef tenderloin (possibly roasted), pan-sauteed trout (in a lovely caper sauce), and salmon (probably the only dish I didn't have at least one bite of). A simple dessert of
blueberries, raspberries, strawberries. Bottomless bottles of a modest red (Capestrano Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, probably $8 retail, though perfectly fine) and white (didn't catch what this was, as I stuck to red). As soon as one bottle was emptied, they replaced it with a new one.
Waitstaff in period costume (1950s cocktail-party American), as were a couple of patrons. Very cheery service, though they were clearly working hard all night. A few patrons came in later on to sit at the handful of unclaimed seats, and ordered off the regular menu.
$65 plus tax and tip, really a steal for the quality and variety and sheer impossible amount of food, which still killed us even though we paced ourselves according to prior warnings. I walked home to burn off a couple of calories, and had a much-needed Fernet Branca. Well worth doing, but I still feel like I'm recovering a few days later.