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Cafe Spaggia, Bistro 110, Frontera and Riva this weekend

l
llindac Nov 5, 2007 12:18 PM

Just got back from a major wine/dine weekend. We take clients for a nice meal and try new places frequently. Bistro 110 was lunch and a second visit for the best onion soup around. Yum! Great service, too. We had Saturday brunch at Frontera and loved it...hubby had the pork tamale special , I had the vegetarian tamale Azteca. Loved all of it, the guacamole was yummy as well. Caramel flan was excellent as well. Loved the atmosphere here.

Our dinner at Cafe Spiaggia was a bit disappointing. 2 appetizers wer good....the mozzarella and the wood roasted ricotta with figs..all fresh homemade style cheeses. However, it 30 minutes for them to arrive and we were already on bottle #2 of wine and out of bread. Entrees were mixed. One diner enjoyed the mushroom ravioli, but I had the daily special ravioli with butternut squash which was bland. The pasta was not so much 'al dente' as it was undercooked and tough. The parmesan sauce was nonexistant and there was not much flavor to the dish. My husband had the sea bass which he usually loves. This was the tiniest piece of fish. It had skin on one side. It was dry and was salty. The accompanying potato puree was bland. Tiramisu was good.

Riva was a surprise. After reading "tourist trap" etc I was skeptical. However, our group of 6 just raved about the dinner! Calimari was gently breaded and tender. A second sauce might have been nice. The thai mussels were fantastic...the broth was good enough to eat as a soup. I don't eat red meat, but the others loved the beef tenderloin stacks on skewers. Entrees pleased everyone from the sole eaters to the Lobster Diavolo and one of the most delicious pieces of marinated ahi tuna I've ever tasted. It came with a side of Asian salad. The only negative was that smoking in the bar carries over to the restaurant. That will end this January, though. Loved Riva's food, service and view. It was a bit loud in there, but that was fine.

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    RMA RE: llindac Nov 6, 2007 06:10 AM

    Thanks for posting your review. I know that I am in the minority, but I also was disappointed with Cafe Spiaggia, and think that it's overrated and overpriced. Given the accolades, it was disappointing to learn that it isn't head and shoulders above other upscale Italian restaurants in town, IMHO. On the other hand, I have not tried Spiaggia, but would expect great things, from what I've read, as it's in a class of its own.

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    1. re: RMA
      k
      KateB RE: RMA Nov 6, 2007 07:48 AM

      You are not alone even if we are in the minority. The last two meals at the Cafe have left me underwhelmed and this was a place that I used to love to go to. Last night I went to Spiaggia, the restaurant, as I hadn't been in several years. I am sorry to report that it also underwhelmed. My pasta course was quite tasty albeit overly salted. It was a ricotta filled ravioli in a lamb ragu. The pasta itself was perfectly cooked and the lamb ragu was very flavorful but the salt was just too intense. My SO got the spaghetti alla chitarra with lobster and house dried tomatoes and it was acceptable but very bland. We were both very disappointed in our mains. I had the sea bass wrapped around a large sea scallop supposedly served with a chili vinaigrette and a garlic mousse plus other flavorings that I am forgetting. It was completely bland and uninteresting. The chili vinaigrette must have missed this plate and while competently cooked it was unseasoned. The biggest disappointment was my SO's veal chop with porcini and chanterelles and "crispy" veal sweetbread. The veal was so fatty that it was largely inedible. Huge globules of fat in every bite. The meat was underseasoned. The porcini were good but the chanterelles were flacid and flavorless. The sweetbread was a round disc in the shape of a mini muffin and tasted overwhelmingly organy (to my SO - I never sampled). I like sweetbreads but this just didn't look appetizing. My SO had never eaten sweetbreads before and after his first and only bite he vowed never to again. Still hungry we split a dessert which was basically a beignet filled with a chocolate mousse and whipped cream. I wasn't wild about it as the beignet texture was difficult to cut through and eat but the SO liked it.

      This is a minor quible but the amuse that started off the dinner was just plain silly. It was a small slice of sopprasatta salami topped with a dollop of (supposedly) butternut squash mousse. It certainly failed to excite my appetite.

      That said the service was great and polished and the venue lovely as you would expect at a 4 star restaurant but when the food fails there's really little left to say.

      Kate

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