Bacaro

136 Division StNew York, NY 10002 • (212) 941-5060 • bacaronyc.com

Bacaro is like Don Juan in restaurant form, dripping with romance and charm (pictured). But sadly, this quaint veneer is all built around one dish, the gnocceti. And if you stick with that and a glass of wine, you will think this place is the cat’s pajamas. But should venture beyond it, you will soon find that the emperor has no clothes.

All three starters were non-starters for me. The asparagus with egg and grana was relatively bland. The caprese was served with mealy tomatoes. And the spicy meatballs, while the best of the trio, weren’t all that spicy- or meaty, for that matter.

The other two entrées I tried were equal parts letdown, the duck ragu was dry and lacking complexity and the pork shank over soft polenta also left me wanting more depth of flavor.

Hell, even the wine was disappointing as was the service, asking us to leave after only 2 hours at our table. Blasphemy!

Flirting with disaster, Bacaro raised the Titanic with a strong Tiramisu to just barely eke out a second knife.

Advertisements

Boca

43 Main StWestport, CT 06880 • (203) 557-0720 • bocawestport.com
 

Tucked away right off of the main drag in an alley adjacent to West Elm, is a bit of a sleeper with big aspirations. A two-story Italian ( I know they call themselves Mediterranean, but it’s mostly Italian), that is probably trendier than it needs to be, with staff that’s trying almost as hard as the décor. But what a view form upstairs! Overlooking the Saugatuck River. You could do worse my friend. Same goes for the food, because Boca is better than most of the Italian options in Westport, which admittedly isn’t saying a whole lot. It seems to be the one cuisine in town that isn’t nailed yet. Tarry Lodge is decent, but that’s really it (granted I hear good things about Filamente Trattoria, so TBD on that one). But if the owners of The Whelk, Kawa Ni & Jesup Hall ever decide to get in the game, count me in as an investor!

Until that happens though, Boca will have to suffice. And suffice is does with killer dishes like the lobster with soft polenta. I also found their mussels with fava beans to be damn skippy.

In the middle I’d peg the fig, goat cheese & honey bruschetta as well as the kale salad with walnuts, green apples and gorgonzola. Both are good, but come off a little too basic and/or simply lacking that wow factor, missing the boat on either texture, contrast or balance.

As for misses, steer clear of the crispy artichokes. They are overly breaded and underly sauced, netting out as unsettling balls of fried batter. We didn’t even finish a third of the dish. Fortunately my glass of red wine will help make up for the cholesterol bomb.

So, with more hits than misses, and the void that it fills in the Italian Westport scene, I’d say it’s a worthy stop. Especially if you’re in the middle of a Main Street shopping spree and you get the grumbles.

Dominick’s

8715 Beverly Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90048(310) 652-2335 dominicksrestaurant.com

dominicks-crawfish-boil-los-angeles

I’ve been to Dominick’s twice now, with about 10 years in between those two visits and not much has changed. It’s still just very mediocre Italian food and a waste of your money and time. Especially when there are so many better Italian options in the city (Capo, Via Veneto, Piccolo, Valentino…). But since most of the great Italian is on the West side, I suppose Dominick’s has its place in a pinch. Granted I’d still take Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills over Dominick’s any day, but enough of the woulda, coulda, shoulda- If you go, be sure to get a table in the garden at the back, it’s much nicer than the inside. No need to add insult to paccheri.

Of my two-time sampling, the soft polenta with black truffles proved far and way to be the best thing on the menu and the only thing I would ever dare use a word more effusive than “good.”  The spaghetti and meatballs was a very distant second clocking in at one notch past average. Everything else from arancini to artichokes, was a big ole C average.

There was, however, one other exception on the dessert menu, the pear fritter/begniets were pretty solid. But other than that, the rest of the desserts were back to blahsville. Oh, and as for that pic above, that’s their crawfish boil, and I must admit, it does looks pretty damn tasty. Not sure how Italian it is, but people seem to swear by it, so perhaps I’ve just been ordering wrong? guess I’ll have to find out when I return to Dominick in another 10 years.

2 teeth

Bistro Rollin

142 Fifth Ave. Pelham, NY 10803 • (914) 633-0780bistrorollin.com

bistro-rollin

After butchering the pronunciation of this place for the last five years, we finally decided to pay it a visit, and I am so glad we did, because I had heard mixed reviews and that it was overrated. But we went with expectations in check and it did not disappoint.

For starters we had the Oysters Rollin, which were quite good, and the stuffed zucchini flowers, which were excellent. Each dressed with a subtle hit of flavor from its accouterments . The oysters, with their refreshing citrus jus. And the flowers with their nice pop of heat.

We also did the pork pate, which was also pretty nice. Served with cornichon, stone ground mustard and crostinis.

After that, we each had our entrees, and I personally went with the waiter’s reco, the duck. And it was terrific. Perfectly cooked. Served over a bed of soft polenta and caramelized baby onions for sweetness.

My friend had the moulles frites- but opted for the curry version- also quite stellar.

My wife had the filet, which was the only thing that was just “eh.”

Then came dessert. We ordered two for the table. The tart tatin and the profiteroles. Both were good, but the hero was the ice cream served atop the apple tart. So creamy  the cow must’ve been an overachiever . As for the desserts themselves, they both could’ve stood to be a little flakier. But good nonetheless.

Paul also recommended a wonderful wine to drink it all down with. Which we did. And service in general was not only good, but very friendly.

Glad I finally went. It’s the only other French Bistro in Westchester- the other being Red Hat, that I’ve liked. And while Red Hat might win on décor/setting, I think Rollin has the edge on the food.

4 teeth