Restaurants & Bars 3

Cafe Spiaggia

Vital Information | Jul 15, 2002 05:20 PM

The other day I told someone to go here, and as I was in the same vicinity the other day, I took my advice. Boy I know my stuff!

I've always liked Spiaggi's cheaper cousin. No need for corporate insider-loans to afford this place. Not as grandiose as Spiaggia, but several tables still afford a nice view of the mag mile. Most important, the menu's filled with the kind of Italian food I want. None of that foo-foo stuff and none of those artificial pasta and grilled chicken combo's either.

There was so much to choose from for our lunch the tuna tartare, the octopus salad, handmade guitar string spaghetti. I do not know how often they change the menu, but the whole thing, not just the five specials of the day, spoke to the time of year. Patty-pan squash here, corn shoots there, a salad of fingerling pototos.

We settled in on one split salad, a soup, another antipasti and a pizza. The weakest offering was the salad, a disguised cesear. The menu promised bottarga, the salty pressed roe of tuna, but remember my bit the other day about Prime's teeny beef tartate portion? This was smaller. A few flecks. The rest of the dishes left the ballpark like Sammy's at home run derby. An intense bean soup, with a drizzle of oil making an inadvertant "S", tasted smooth and rich. The added faro (a/k/a wheatberries) gavle nice chew. I really liked the yuppie salad covered pizza. The toppings stopped about an inch from the diameter, creating a good contrast between cracker-crisp and soggy-stuff laded crusts. Also, the cold arugula contrasted nicely with the crispy pancetta--a medeteranian salade lyonaise. I did not sample our final dish, poached shrimps with avocado on top of a tomatoe vinagrette. All I can say were the shrimps were not shrimpy and the tomato vinagrette was thick, almost a coulis or sauce.

After lunch we salvitated over the fixed menus at the big guy. After what we enjoyed for our lunch, a $35 per person offering at Spiaggi seemed like a lunch-time bargin.


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