Last night we went to Pastina's with friends. Because this restaurant is so prized on this board, I am writing to report on what were mixed results. First the good: one of our party enjoyed her "special" of salmon with a sauce made mainly of strawberries. Personally, I can't imagine ordering yet alone liking such a thing, but she did. Her husband had the veal chop, also a "special," which he also enjoyed. Less appreciated were a so-so spaghetti putanesca, and the osso buco, which was very tender but which, like its accompanying sauce and saffron rice, tasted like it had been sitting in the freezer or around the kitchen too long (like days). The worst was the shared calamari appetizer: a large portion, but rubbery, no taste at all, weakly fried, an unhappy beginning for a meal one has looked forward to. The service was efficient, but the waiter, a rather hulking fellow, while "correct," seemed fairly exasperated with our party the entire time. The wine list was uninteresting and very overpriced. The bill in the end was quite reasonable, and for that reason the dinner was, in a sense, vindicated even if mediocre. But I wish somebody would give me the reasons for the enthusiasm so frequently expressed.