Win some, lose some

Saturday night dinner out with Mike and Linda.  Looking on Opentable for a reservation, I found a new Italian restaurant in an old location–1606 North Main Street.

20 years ago, I was keeping company with Lois Frankland’s baby sister, Doreen.  Every Tuesday night found us at Sepp’s Pizza enjoying a deep dish Chicago Style pie.   Eventually, Joe Sepp got a real job and sold the place to an Indian family who couldn’t really cook a decent pizza, so it folded.  Then it was a French place for many years, which we liked, and now it is Ottavia.

The restaurant has been repainted in warm chocolate colors, although the design with kitchen in front and the dining in a narrow hallway and a rear dining room remains difficult.

My hopes were high as I started with an incredible appetizer of prosciutto, burratino (very fresh mozzarella) and figs.  Service had been slow, but I try to cut some slack to a place open only 6 or 8 weeks.

They were losing points when I got my iced tea and they only had the pink sweetener–this is a cost saving measure you only find in lesser establishments.  The good ones offer the blue and the yellow, which cost more but are vastly superior.  I can’t believe anyone even uses the pink stuff anymore.

I had the papardelle with Kid Goad sugo, which I enjoyed although it was on the bland side.  Linda, though, ordered the tagliatelle with Venetian Seafood sauce, and was quite surprised to find it exceptionally spicy, so much so that I wouldn’t have been able to eat it.  Seems like the sort of thing you should put on the menu.

Oh yes, the menu.  Strange, oddly organized and difficult to understand. The menu is supposed to create a sense of excitement for the guests, not puzzlement and confusion.

Gail ordered what was advertised as “American Kobe” beef.  While she had a perfectly acceptable filet, I don’t think you can really serve “American Kobe” at that price–I’d like to see the invoice from their supplier.  I’ve purchased that beef, once, from a mail order house and it was $80/pound.  You can’t sell it in a restaurant for $28.

My dessert was, theoretically “zabayon”.  A real zabaglione is made with sugar, egg yolks and marsala wine.  Whatever they served me had never been near a wine bottle, it was just pudding.  Mike and Linda shared a bread pudding that was much better.

So, although I have such a long relationship with the location, I don’t think I can recommend Ottavia to my loyal readers. I can’t read the menu, don’t trust what I can read and don’t like the dessert.  Three strikes, they’re out.


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