Sunday, July 26, 2009

La Trattoria

Having lived in Greenwood for over 10 years, it was almost embarrassing that we had never tried La Trattoria, old downtown Greenwood's best known restaurant. We picked a beautiful night to sit outside and enjoy the most mild July to date. We were seated immediately. Ozzy was even allowed to choose the table -- a very kid-friendly gesture on the host's part.

Our waitress is one we won't soon forget. Sassy to an extreme. Rude on purpose as it is her schtick. It worked very well and she always left us smiling. At her suggestion, we started the evening with the stuffed portabello, pictured above. Ouff. It was so good. Garlicy, creamy and salty. We couldn't place the cheese, but our question to the waitress was met with only a "oh you think I'm going to tell you" stare. Perfect.

Her first recommendation being spot on, we kept them coming. First, the house Chianti for Fred --Tasty, fully bodied, great nose and a generous portion. FLO approves. As for the meal, Libby agreed to the 8-ounce filet, medium rare with veggies and roasted potatoes. Fred, the special. Seabass, blackened also with veggies and potatoes. Even Ozzy took the suggestion for the marinara instead of meat sauce.

From the appetizer on, Fred's review goes south. While the salad course provided decent produce, it was drowning in dressing. With a powerfully tangy ceasar, a little goes a long way and a lot makes for an inedible salad.

Whether it was an oversight or by design, the seabass (while cooked perfectly) was not blackened nor did it have a hint of flavor. The veggies were the highlight of his plate. Again perfectly cooked, but this time seasoned very well.

Libby, thankfully, had much the opposite experience, save the equally overdressed salad. The waitress told us they were known for their steaks and it showed. She's unsure she has ever had a better steak. So flavorful and tender. Not sure if it was the aging, seasoning or the cooking technique but it was one of the most succulent steaks she has ever had. The parmesan crusted roasted potatoes were a perfect match as were the veggies. It was obvious they'd used butter to cook the steak and the resulting pool made for a wonderful melding with the other items on the plate.

Ozzy's pasta dish didn't receive much attention. While he had a few bites, he decided the complimentary garlic bread was a much more satisfying dining experience. Having tasted the marinara, we wonder if this was only the child's version. It was overly sweet, but probably suitable for a younger clientele.

For desert, Ozzy began with the complimentary mint/cherry/chocolate spumoni. But as there was something that looked like a giant Reese's Cup on Mommy's plate, he abandoned it quickly. Libby had ordered a giant chocolate layered ganache; an easy choice next to the cheesecakes and cannoli. Covered in spumoni and whipped cream, it was warm, rich and almost too much after the heavenly steak. Fred, per his norm, would rather drink his dessert. Again he was thwarted in that La Trattoria offers neither a sherry nor a port. Bah. Instead, our waitress offered up a white zin. Fred was skeptical but ended up pleasantly surprised. It was highly fruity with very strong strawberry overtones. Way too easy to drink. Not the decadent aperitif he was looking for, but welcome nonetheless.

Wrap Up
Price- $$$-$$$$, Our wallet still hasn't recovered. Oops!
Atmosphere-**, Green plastic chairs with your high end steaks? Really?
Service-****, Very attentive with extra helpings of sass. Her suggestions (minus the Seabass) were spot on.

Fred - C, Perhaps I should have sent my fish back. I was close to it.
Libby - A-, Amazing portabello, excellent steak and an overall rich dining experience.
Ozzy - B, Loved the bread and probably would have eaten more of the pasta had he been more hungry. Unfortunately the icecream had fruit in it. No go. Nice try mom & dad.

La Trattoria Italian on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tomato Pie

Having attempted to sample and review this north-side bistro more than once and been turned away due to it's unusual hours of operation (seriously, check the website or call ahead to make sure they're open!), we were finally successful. Our first impression, strictly from the name, was that Tomato Pie was a pizza joint. But upon arrival, we found that it is actually Tomato Pie Bistro, who proudly serves their pies alongside other classic Southern Italian cuisine.

We walked in upon not one, but two large birthday parties squeezed into the restaurant's very small, but open dining room. The single server was literally running between all the tables. After a breathless request to wait at the door, a very young hostess cleared and seated us at a table. The decor is sparse but well aimed and pleasant, if a bit dark.

Having already made up our minds prior to our arrival, we immediately put in our order for a green tomato pie and a dinner salad. The salad was spring mix, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, strawberries, and black olives with balsamic honey dressing. The name of the salad escapes us, but it was outstanding. Certainly a salad which could stand up as a meal by itself. The dressing was unusual and delicate in flavor. A real winner. It was accompanied by a simple garlic bread that became Ozzy's dinner.

The pie itself was a thin crust, pesto sauce with green tomatoes, fresh sliced mozzarella, chopped garlic and egg, sliced roma tomatoes and the thickest chopped bacon we've ever had. Yum-O as Rachel Ray would say. We couldn't put it down our gullets fast enough. The 14" was devoured much to our later dismay. With the very low lighting, it was hard to pick out individual ingredients on the pie, but each bite was different in flavor combination. Absolutely wonderful. Although the crust was thin, it was not exceptionally crisp -- just barely enough to hold up the pie.

Libby took a moment to read the wall of fame and found some interesting information: The owner's mother is Sicilian and he has been cooking since the age of 14. He has over 25 years of restaurant experience and all 9 of his children staff the restaurant in different capacities.

One particular difference to note about their pies -- all ingredients are sauteed in olive oil before they are ever placed on the crust. There are no cold toppings applied before it is put in the oven. This allows the flavors to meld and it certainly worked for us! It left us asking why no one else seems to do this?

While scarfing down the amazing pie, we couldn't help but notice the attractive pastas passing our table. There are 3 different marsalas on the menu along with the usual lasagna, ravioli, etc. Everything that passed reminded us that we must return for a more in-depth review!

Wrap Up
Price- $-$$$, $14.50 for a 14" specialty pizza! A steal!
Atmosphere-**, Poor lighting and the corner table was obviously used as an office. But there was a definite personality to the place.
Service-***, Even while handing two huge parties and a few other tables, our server never left us waiting for anything.

Fred - A-, Great pie at a great price. I can't wait to sample their regular entrees. An amazing marsala would push this place into a possible A+ in my mind.
Libby - A-, Ditto. The chef and his family obviously puts their heart and soul into the cooking. I can't wait to have more.
Ozzy - C+, No kids menu. But he was certainly welcomed by the staff and entertained by the faux fireplace.

Tomato Pie on Urbanspoon