Locanda Vini & Olii - good, not amazing or cheap
Went to Locanda Vini & Olii tonight on strong recommendations from friends and had a good but not exceptional meal. Thought the decor was great - definitely had a relaxed date-place feel (with only positive connotations intended), and both staff and diners were actively friendly.
Food was solid but not flashy. Started off very well with bison Carpaccio with julienned pears, shaved cheese and arugula – light, fresh, delicious, and beautifully plated. Rosemary chickpea soup was tasty, if maybe a bit heavy on rosemary. Had two pastas – goat cheese ravioli and a papardelle with braised rabbit. Neither was memorable (though the ravioli was better), and both were delivered in what I’d characterize as an intentionally frumpy presentation. For our main, we shared honey glazed duck with shallots and chickpeas. The duck was very good (glaze made for delicious crisp/sweet skin), and the shallots were an excellent complement. The chickpeas were nearly tasteless, however, and once again the plating was plain – did not add to the excitement of the dish.
Worth noting we had an *excellent* cappuccino to round out dinner – a pleasant addition.
All in all, dinner was $160 including a good $42 bottle of Tuscan wine and tip – no bargain.
Its good to get a detailed report on the chow. But what's this thing about presentation? My take on this place is that its a consciously Italian restaurant, and dolled up plating just is not part of that culture. You order a plate of risotto you get a plate of risotto, period. There wont be garnishes or other things going on on that plate.
I went there three times last year and I remember not being too impressed by the pasta. However, the salads were delicious and intersting and the steak dish on the menu was so good I ordered it every time I ate there, as well as the roasted potatoes on the side.
Overall, I stopped going to Locanda because I'd rather eat out cheaply and often and there are several places I'd rather go for a splurge.
Read this post with interest, as my wife and I made our first outing there last night. We found it absolutely and uniformly excellent.
The braised rabbit and porcini pastas were wonderful and the steak and short ribs were fabulous.
The cooks here have a great respect for essence of their ingredients. The steak for example, wasn't dolled up or over-sauced. It was just a fabulous piece of meat that was perfectly seasoned.
My wife points out that it's unusual to have a place with these sorts of prices (it is expensive) that lacks any flash in presentation.