Last night a friend and I tried Aqua, the place that took over the space of the late lamented Smith Street Kitchen. We had a very good meal.
The menu, which seems to change every few days, evinces a blend of Italian, Spanish and Asian influences and, like Smith Street Kitchen, it focuses on fish. I started with a Sardinian tuna tartare which was fresh and subtly spicy and served in a nice-sized v-shaped rocks glass. My friend had a big salad with tear-drop tomatoes and house-made croutons. Simple but a lovely dressing, well applied.
Friends' prawns putanesca was a big bowl of penne with shrimp, artichokes (we're talking halved, fresh, baby artichokes--no canned ), olives, capers, etc. Very spicy but good. Again, nice size. I had six enormous head-on shrimp, beautifully pan-grilled and dripping with yummy juice. Unfortunately, the rather overthought fried pasta pancake (sort of Thai-inspired) that the shrimp sat on couldn't absorb much juice. Also I could not manage to cut the fried pasta pancake without practically tipping over the table.)
No wine list yet but they had a small seletion on offer, including a nice Pinot Grigio from Friuli at $7.50 a glass.
The desserts didn't that interesting. We got a slice of cinamon angel food cake with a tiny bit of caramel sauce that was OK. Just for being there, they comped our dessert.
Starters hovered around $11; pastas and entrees around $20. With tip, tax and three glasses of wine, we left $100.
The room is extremely attractive and the tables well spaced. The manager who was running the room was friendly-knowlegable-efficient. The servers were a notch below, well-meaning but not that professional, but hopefully they'll get seasoned as time goes on.
I really liked that the portions were big. The few tims I ate at the Grocery I left thinking, "if they think I'm too sophisticated to care about portion size, they're dead wrong."