Rialto rest. week meal: highs and lows
Went with a few friends last night.
What I ordered and/or tasted off of others' plates:
started with the bread basket: really good crusty rolls with some fabulous olive oil and fleur de sel
wine choice: Majus Ajello bianco di Sicilia. Can't remember the vintage, but the wine was great, and a good bargain, and worked very well with the food we ordered. Nice balance of sweetness and acidity; kind of like a Chenin Blanc but less sweet.
1. spicy greens with caciotta cheese and walnuts: a good but generally unremarkable salad; the cheese was not as interesting or flavorful as I'd hoped, and the greens perhaps not as spicy as promised
2. fresh corn and lemon risotto with basil pesto: this was excellent. Very good balance of flavors and nice texture. All the flavors stood out separately and combined well on the palate.
3. beet ravioli stuffed with potato and stracciatella cheese with golden beets: this dish tried hard but failed overall. The ravioli casing itself was a beautiful pink color from the beets, and the potato-cheese filling was very nice, although I didn't detect any egg as I expected based on the stracciatella in the name. The problem here was that the whole thing was soggy and lacked any acidity. The ravioli were swimming in a pool of undistinguished, oily sauce, and the pasta had no bite to it. The soft filling and the soft, oily pasta lacked texture and complexity, but perhaps worked on the level of "comfort food." The golden beets added some much needed bite to the dish, and they were delicious.
an aside: I asked that salt and pepper be brought to the table in order to spruce up my ravioli (some freshly grated parmesan would have been nice as well but I didn't ask). I was expecting freshly ground black pepper but received pre-ground pepper in a small shaker. There was some very nice fleur de sel already on the table from the bread basket, but I wanted finer grained salt for the meal.
4. seared bluefish w/sweet and sour eggplant, pine nuts and raisins. I thought the bluefish was excellent. Rich and flavorful and not overcooked, with its delicious, very crispy skin attached. The eggplant on the side was tasty but a bit over-oiled and under-abundant.
5. had one bite of the milk-braised pork loin and found it dry and uninteresting. did not try the stuff on the side of that dish.
6. fresh berries with cornmeal shortcake and fresh whipped cream. Very nice but not a stunner. I was hoping for some special kind of berries, but it was just strawberries and blueberries. The cornmeal shortcake biscuit was fine, but could have been flakier and richer. The whipped cream was very good.
7. chocolate-espresso torta: this was really good---smooth and dense but not heavy; the best thing about it was the candied orange peel served with it that provided a perfect counterpoint to the chocolate; there was some kind of sticky sauce too but I wasn't paying enough attention to what was in it. It worked very well as a whole.
On the whole, I was surprised by the relatively pedestrian choice of ingredients. I had been at the Union Square farmer's market the day before and found all sorts of wonders like small salad turnips that can be eaten raw, fresh Italian plums, beautiful heirloom tomatoes, purple green beans, etc. I really did not see much innovation in this meal in terms of using the best, most seasonal ingredients and treating them to simple yet refined Italian preparations.
Anyone else have a Rialto experience to share? The service and atmosphere were mostly quite good, I should add, and the meal did not set us back too much, but I still felt that I didn't really get my money's worth.
i had hoped that the renovation might have led to a renovation of ideas. Did restaurant week here in the past and it bore no resemblance to the quality of the expensive food I've had in some very excellent regular menu meals. I can't understand this: why participate in restaurant week if it isn't to shine? why would you show less than your best side? i'm in favor of smaller portions but give me your best shot!
I went last night and had the exact same AM starvation! I ordered the corn risotto (excellent but tiny portion), bluefish, and watermelon sorbet for dessert. The overall impression I had were that the courses were rich in oil and butter but not in quantity- I would have preferred a slight shift in the opposite. I too am a fairly light eater and didn't feel hungry immediately after but unfortunately had to eat right when getting up in order to satisfy the growling tummy!
I didn't leave hungry - I didn't leave stuffed. I felt full. Something has to give when you're paying half-price, and I'm glad it was mainly portion size. I thought that a bread basket of two rolls for two people was a bit stingy, especially when it was never refilled.
I had the risotto, which I think was the best thing I had at the meal. The pesto really gave a nicely balanced zip to the whole dish. I'd agree with bella sarda on the bluefish and torta. My wife had the tuscan tomato bread soup for an appetizer, and it was fabulous too.
I had dinner at Rialto tonight and it was excellent as opposed to a bad experience at The Fireplace last night. I had the antipasto, salmon and chocolate torta. My DC had the lemon risotto the pork and the chocolate torta.
Everything was great including the service. I thought the portions were ample. I wouldn't have wanted them any bigger when having a three course meal.
The Fireplace was a total waste and I have had some very good experiences there in the past. I won't be going back. Their menu choices were very much on the "cheap" side.......clam chowder, a burger and small root beer float for $33.07 is no bargain. By the time we had wine, we ended up paying $200.00 for three people including tax and gratuity....certainly not a bargain for what we had. We also had a waiter who was both extremely distracted and condescending. I have not been there for RW before and the only reason we chose to go there during RW is that we had a meeting at 6:00 only a couple of blocks away. That was actually my first really disappointing RW experience.