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Restaurants & Bars 4

Mother in Law Report #4: Cafe Veneto

JudiAU | Jun 10, 200401:25 PM

We ate dinner last night at Café Veneto with a party of six adults and one well-behaved three year old.

We had many, many dishes so I will concentrate on the highlights and the dishes to avoid.

All of the fried fish was very good. Someone in the kitchen has a light hand with frying. We had both the calamari and the fried sole. Both came with substandard dipping sauces.

Pizzas were light and crisp with a minimum of toppings. The diavolo pizza came topped with pepperoni and pickled jalapenos. The jalapenos didn't taste very Italian but it was a tasty pairing. If pickled jalapenos are an integral party of Italian cuisine, please someone let me know.

Osso bucco was richy and tasty and bone had the marrow intact. Small portion for $9.

Salads would be appealing to the diet crowd. They were dressed with sharp vinagrettes that didn't strike me as particularly Itailin but complimented the other dishes.

Several people liked the skirt steak but my taste was tough and I found the sauce to be watery and have a strange and unpleasant aftertaste.

The eggplant puree was made with very little oil so it was light on the palate, i.e. flavorless.

Baked rigatoni would be great for fussy children but didn't appeal to the adults.

The cured meat plate was uninspiring, especially at $15 and after a recent trip to New York where we tasted great in-house products. I am pretty sure it was prepared well in advance because the proscuitto had begun to meld with itself.

Avoid the desserts. The lemon granita was artificial tasting but fine texturally. Our espresso granita arrived as a lukewarm soup with a few ice crystals floating in it. It had clearly been sitting out for at least 35-45 minutes. I can't imagine why the kitchen or our waiter would serve it. We sent it back. They were out of Tiramisu.

Crème Catalan was not the real thing. It was an overly sweet stove-top custard with no cinnamon/lemon/orange notes squirted with some thick caramel sauce. It was fatty-tasting with cheesy notes. Panna cotta had the texture of cool whip and may have been made with whipped cream?! The cholocate mousse was very sweet and didn't seem to have much chocolate in it. The remnants were excellent for pictures of stars and flowers by the resident finger-painting artist.

I am not sure who is making these desserts but they were embarrassing.

Everyone complimented their coffee (I didn't try it.) but I found it slightly annoying that they wouldn't accommodate a guest with some cinnamon. Are we really to believe that the kitchen was cinnamon free?

The noise is loud, even when the room is half-filled. It was almost impossible for six people to talk to each other.

The staff was quite nice to the child, and even brought her a little order of french fries.

I understand that the wine list is dominated by organic wines but it would have been useful to have more recognizable varietals. There were no chiantis, barolos, etc. They were out of at least six of the wines we asked for because they are "redoing the list."

We shared three bottles of wine in the $30 range, some sparkling water, and a large number of small dishes. The bill for the group was around $300 and included an automatic 18% tip.

This was the weakest of the meals this week. If the wine list improves I would order wine, pizza, and the sole again, smuggling in my own aoili.

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