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Aug 12, 2007 04:08 PM

Aliseo, Prospect Heights

Despite some warnings from Chowhound and elsewhere I went with a big group to Aliseo.
Not much good to report other than the wine. We started off with figs and prosciutto, stuffed olives and tiny meatballs. All of those appetizers were passable but we should have stopped there. The pastas were flavorless. Pasta with octopus and chickpeas was bland and disappointing for such an interesting mix. The traditional bolognese was weak - the fact that so little was dabbed on a big plate of pasta didn't help. The desserts were a let down as well. At $60 a head for an ultimately unremarkeable bording on bad meal... Next time I listen to the chowhounds.

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  1. Well, we agree on the wine. I dont doubt your experience but our pastas there have never been flavorless. Not big bold flavors (not what they're going for) but well balanced. Maybe something was wrong that night... we've never had that experience. The price range is accurate but we generally get (in quality of ingredients and care of preparation) our money's worth. They have a very different approach from our other favorites like red sauce plus Queen or the more robust al di la style, but we love Aliseo for a simple parma ham and cheese plate then a well made pasta or entree. Oh well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Steve R

      I like Aliseo too, especially the interesting, lovingly made pizzas, but I have stopped going because it just seems too expensive in the end. The check is always a shock. If price were no object, I wouldn't care, but I am going through a very broke phase. So, I can understand how it would just seem not worth it to people for whom price matters. But I have always liked the food...

      1. re: gnosh

        are they still offering a weekday prix fixe dinner? that was an excellent deal.

    2. I'll never understand the knock on this place. Some of the most authentic Italian I've had in the city -- including a dreamy duck ragu lasagne...GREAT wine list, stuff you can't get elsewhere. Plus the top-notch cheese. My wife reminds me that not everyone likes the flavors I do -- olives, fish sauce, truffle oil, the like. But this is my favorite cooking in the neighborhood. Less of a wait for us, I guess.

      1. We live blocks away and we were kept away for several years because of the bad reviews... we had dinner tonight, and it's a great place. Yes, the portions were on the small side..but that's ok. It would have been nice if the menu delineated those dishes that were more of a starter size and those that were more of an entree size...that was confusing. But I regret that we didn't try this place sooner! I would definitely recommend it as a nice place to sip wine in the garden and eat some yummy food.

        3 Replies
        1. re: simsum

          I was there about 6 weeks ago and had an above average meal. It's definitely worth a visit.

          1. re: Bob Martinez

            i think its an extremely nice space, and nice service, with pretty ordinary food.

            1. re: Wet Towel

              I agree with Steve R:s (2007) description of the pasta dishes: " Not big bold flavors (not what they're going for) but well balanced".

              Also, even if food is "ordinary", it can be very tasty if it is made out of fresh ingredinets and is skillfully prepared.

        2. Apparently this place has undergone a transformation in the past two years, so if you had a bad experience in 2007, when the bad reviews on this thread were written, you should probably try again given the favorable reviews from last month...and now mine. To start, the man who I assume is the owner/operator asked what my wife was looking for in a wine and promptly selected a glass that she loved. To the calamari salad, my wife said it was excellent, and I thought it was just fine, but I don't like tomatoes, so I'm not the best judge there. For the entrees, I had the braised beef and maltagliata, which was superb. I've never used "subtle" and "rosemary" in the same sentence before, but the balance of flavors in this dish was exquisite for something so earthy and homey. My wife had the short rib and polenta, which was also homey and prepared with love. As a side note, the olives that came to the table with the bread were fresh and delicious. We're definitely going back.

          2 Replies
          1. re: douglas525

            No transformation that I know of. What you're describing is the restaurant (and owner) as it has always been. Some folks really dont like it, some do (including us). The owner is passionate about what he does and takes it very seriously. Glad you had a good time.

            1. re: Steve R

              We had a big group in Aliseo the other night, and while there were relative winners and losers we were overall happy with our meal. We liked a raw beef app as well, but felt it was sliced a little thick and consequently a bit too hard to chew We particularly enjoyed a range of vegetarian apps - their beet sformato, braised endive, in particular - as well as a seafood puff with ramp oil pesto sauce received as an amuse which we all loved.. the chickpea-octopus-polenta pasta dish was tasty, and a dish of polenta with mushrooms was delicious. Their ragu and lamb dishes wre both correct and satisfying but not exciting. Wines selected by the owner were excellent as was a semifreddo with zabaglione for dessert. I think it remains an interesting and enjoyable choice in the neighborhood and we will try to get back sooner.

              665 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238