Eric Eto, Peter Cuce and I went to Ferdinando's this evening. What a disappointment. I had been there before, and had the Pasta con Sarde, and I liked it. This time, however, it was just plain bad. So much fennel that it overwhelmed all the other flavors (if there were any, who could tell?) in the dish. The sardines were pretty much undiscernable - brown tasteless small mushy lumps. We had a stuffed artichoke, which was obviously cooked long ago and was quite dried out - and was reheated in a microwave which resulted in a wet soggy bottom and reedy, fibrous dried out leaves. Stuffed pepper was bland and overcooked. Arancina balls were okay, but nothing to write home about. The only thing we really enjoyed were the Panelle - crisp outside and soft inside, nicely flavored and hot and fresh. The microwave seems to get an awful lot of use there, which is problematic for these foods.
Feeling unsatisfied, we headed over to Sam's for a much anticipated pizza, which none of us had ever tried (I have had other food there in the past which was lousy). We found the mozzarella to be of mediocre quality - rubbery and too chewy, and too much of it. The sauce was pretty good, a bit on the sweet side. The crust was decent, not as thin as it could have been, but a nice texture and slightly charred on the bottom. We got half regular and half with garlic - and the garlic was awful. The pre-chopped, probably jarred, mushy, oily stuff packed no garlic punch. The regular pizza (no garlic) was better than your average slice around town, but nowhere near what we would consider excellent pizza.
To add to our frustration, the waiter (forgive us, but it was really bad) smelled so noticeably bad that we cringed from across the room when we walked in.
All in all, a disappointing evening of eating.