we planned an early bday dinner - very casual because there were 2 kids and a baby involved - today. nixed sotta vocce (sp?) but the parameters were that it had to be right in that area. so we picked the new 'porta toscana' (183 7th ave, park slope) on the theory that anything had to be better than the ever-disapointing sotta.
hmmmmmmmmmm. they were decidedly not in gear for a restaurant with one other table in it. (we started at 5:30). we arrived to find that they didn't have wine yet but never bothered to mention that when we made a reservation. so i tromped off and bought a few bottles. then we got some bakery italian bread with olive oil that was ok, but we noticed that tables after us got big hunks of foccacio. our bread basket was never refilled. the busboys aren't on the case. i told them which bottle of wine to open first; they opened the wrong bottle. we ordered dinner - all the adults had apps and entrees and the kids each ordered a pizza off the kid menu. we were told that cheese was a 'topping' for the pizza (for the kids.). oy. sort of like paying for the bowl of rice at chinese places. silly. we waited a lonnnnnnnnnnng time for our aps (during which time our wine glasses weren't refilled nor the breadbasket.) don't take kids who can't hang out.
the apps came. generally ok. not amazing but ok. i had a shaved fennel with oranges and grilled shrimp. 4 of the tiniest shrimp you can imagine so, of course, they were very dry because how can you grill a moist miniature shrimp? tons of fennel but no tang to the dish. dh had some fried artichoke with anchovy paste and some other fried stuff that seemed ok. one other adult had a special soup that was good...lots of seafood and grilled calamari with some broth in an enormous bowl with bread on the side.
entrees came out decently thereafter but they got one person's entree completely wrong so it was sent back. my husband's pasta was (a pet peeve of mine) a bit too al dente - i don't like very chewy pasta. one with a tomato sauce across the table looked a bit oversauced and i had a pasta fagiole that was good if bland and very soupy. one note wonder.
then we had a very fast plate of assorted italian desserts - a few cream puffs, tiramisu in the middle, some very good eggy ricotta cheesecake...all these were good. we didn't stay for coffees.
it was a pretty heft tab and they aren't together yet.