An Evening in Norwalk, Connecticut– Osteria Romana   Leave a comment

 I once heard that riding a Vespa is like taking an unattractive girl home from the bar at closing time.    It may be fun to do, but you never want your friends to see you doing it…

Last night, my good friend, JR, chose Osteria Romana for a late dinner.  With a Vespa parked out front, this had the makings for either a really good night or something less than that. 

The restaurant, located in a strip mall shopping center, has a welcoming atmosphere.  The wait staff were courteous, friendly and helpful.  In a word, well-trained. 

The food, though good in places was uneven.  For our appetizers, the four of us (including Mrs. JR and Ms. R) selected two standard dishes– a charcuterie/cheese plate and a fried calamari– both executed nicely.  The fra diavolo dipping sauce for the calamari was quite flavorful.  But most memorable is a dish they call, Spedino Alla Romana, a 1/4 inch thick piece of homemade mozzarella which is Egg-battered, breaded and pan-fried and topped off with a sublime sauce of garlic and capers.  It is compelling in its simplicity and I would return to this restaurant just for this simple little app. 

A word on portion size.  Osteria Romana delivers food in an America Style– that is to say, in overabundant portion sizes.  Any of their main courses could easily have been shared.  For my main course, my initial inclination, since this was my first visit to this place, was to go with a more traditional dish, like say, the Veal Saltimboca.  But our waiter suggested a pan seared and sesame crusted tuna instead.  I’m game– so I went for it.  The slab of tuna arrived nearly covering the plate it was served on and allowing it to hide the two bushels of greens underneath (perhaps a little bit of hyperbole on my part, but just a little– there were a LOT of greens!).  Although perfectly cooked with a nice crunchy texture on the outside and rare meat inside, unfortunately, it was not properly seasoned and it also could have used some sort of sauce to finish it.  My good friend, taking my cue ordered the veal, which by the way, was superior to the tuna in every way.  I should have gone with my initial instinct.  Ms. R ordered a seafood risotto, which delivered on flavor, though it was a bit too al dente for her tastes.  (Seriously, should risotto ever be served al dente?)  Both her item and mine came from a specials menu. 

The dessert, a creme brulee was unappetizing.  Lemon flavored (not mentioned in the menu), it was not to Ms. R’s liking.  I am OK with the lemon, what I am not OK with is the fact that there was a pool of liquid underneath the custard which was served at room temperature.  For me, the ideal CB should have a hard warm crust and cool custard underneath.  It seems this one may have been sitting around and that may have been why the custard broke down releasing the liquid.  The dessert gets a definite F.

Pricing is consumer friendly– we got out of there for about $50 per person before tip– and that included a fair corkage fee of $15 per bottle.

In summary, this is good place to go for Northern Italian fare.  The food is good so long as they are operating in their comfort zone.  If you stick to the basics, from the regular menu, you should not be disappointed.  If I had just had the Spedino and the Veal Saltimboca, I would be raving about the food.  But there were those other shortcomings and so in a Sybarite Sauvage first, we rate this place a C+

Tenuta Julia Amarone (2006).  Amongst the wines we consumed last night was this little Amarone that I pulled out of the cellar.  Mild yet confident aromas rose from our glasses.  Ripe dried fruit flavors, complemented with a silkiness on the palate gave this wine an elegance that set it apart from the wines that came before.  Rated ***

As for the Vespa, I think you would be the envy your friends if you had Gina Lollobrigida or Ms. R hanging on to your waist as you sped away!

Posted March 24, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

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