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Very good DIB experience at Tuscany Grill

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in Bay Ridge (Third Ave near 86th St).

I’m not putting this in the dominant DIB thread because, well, because this is not about applewood and about 70 posts in that thread are about nothing but applewood (and the bad DIB experiences people had at applewood). On to Tuscany Grill.....

On a whim while heading downtown to the Y for a swim, remembering it was the end of DIB week and that we had not tried a new restaurant yet, my sister and I stopped into Tuscany Grill late Saturday afternoon to see if we could get a reservation for that evening. They had very few slots left, but managed to fit us in.

Tuscany Grill had their DIB menu posted in the window and, as a rule, I tend to like to try restaurants who post their DIB menus (as opposed to hiding their DIB menus). I suspect those who don’t post their menus as being very ambivalent about participating in the DIB promotion. And, frankly, if you’re not going to order from the DIB menu, I think it’s a bad week to try a new restaurant from their regular menu.

The only time slot they had left was 9:45pm. We took it happily. I actually like eating late, especially on Saturday night. I’m one of those people who can never get off the beach until after the sun sets so I’m always looking for places to eat dinner late in Montauk and Mexico too. I’m a true night person. Anyway, not surprisingly, they were a little backed up and we were seated at about 10. We didn’t mind the short wait. Although he was manically busy, the host (owner?) was very friendly and made us feel immediately welcome. We saw at least one other party stop in around that time to try to get in without a reservation but they had to turn them away because they were fully booked.

It’s a charming, cozy, little restaurant with about 15 tables so it’s probably always a good idea to get a reservation on Saturday night, not just DIB week. The ambiance is warm and romantic with nice lighting. It would be a good date place, but parties like us, who were clearly not on dates, seemed equally welcome. I wouldn’t bring my 6-year old nephew for dinner there. Not saying they won’t serve families with kids as many Italian restaurants are family friendly. But the room was filled with adults. Of course, it was late on Saturday night. Maybe earlier or a different day would be okay for well-behaved kids. Still, I wouldn’t bring my 6-year old nephew because he’s not old enough to appreciate it yet. And it's a small space.

Our waiter was very nice. He pointed out the DIB menu when he handed us the menus and also told us about some specials. He casually mentioned that lots of people were ordering from the DIB menu, which I took to be a very nice way of making sure we didn’t, in any way, feel sheepish about ordering from it. Although he was very busy, all three courses arrived well paced and he checked back to make sure all was well. We never waited too long and we were never rushed.

I like wine with dinner, but I’m not a wine connoisseur so I can’t really report much about what’s available on the wine list. We ordered a bottle of Malbec for $29 which was the second cheapest bottle on the list. When I’m in places where most of the bottles are a little or way too expensive for me, I’ve fallen into ordering the second or third cheapest wine instead of the dirt cheapest, which was probably $27. ;-) I don’t remember the label/winery but we were fine with it. Wine was also available by the glass, but we tend to order by the bottle.

Now, about the food: We both ordered from the DIB menu. Although it was 10pm, they still had every item offered on their DIB menu available. (By contast, on Sunday evening I went to Chianti and they were out of mussels at 7:30pm.)

Appetizer: I think there were about 5 choices. I’m not sure if I’m remembering the ones we didn’t have but I think the options were a salad, soup, maybe bruschetta, calamari in mild, medium or hot sauce and the one we both had: Mussels in a tomato Pernod broth! We toyed with getting one mussels and one calamari and sharing but we both love mussels so much so we both got mussels. And we were rewarded. The mussels were delicious. We were each served a dozen tender nice sized mussels, perfectly cooked and served in a wonderfully seasoned broth.

The mussels made me want to come back to try their regular menu Tuscan seafood stew called Cacciucco, which is a mix of various seafood also in a tomato Pernod broth. We ate the mussels with the good bread that was served. I’m not sure what the spread was that was served with the bread because I mostly dipped my bread in the mussels broth. It wasn’t straight butter. My sister thought it might have had some cheese mixed in. But it also might have been a white bean spread. Anyway, if anyone from Tuscany Grill is reading this review, you will see me again to try that Cacciucco. Tuscany Grill is within walking distance of home for me so I feel like I just gained a new neighborhood restaurant.

Entrée: There were 5 or 6 options. I had crispy (broiled?) salmon with escarole and garlic mashed potatoes, all of which were basic but very good. My sis had lemon chicken which came with, I think grilled zucchini and roasted potatoes. I tasted the chicken and it was good. She liked it too. She also liked my salmon. Besides the two entrees we ordered, there were two pasta entrée options (rigatoni Bolognese and penne w/vodka sauce) and one sausage w/sautéed grapes entrée.

Dessert: There was only one dessert on the DIB menu: chocolate mousse cake with raspberry sauce. But they also offered a second option of carrot cake that night. We both had the chocolate mousse cake and it was good.

All of the food was good but it was the mussels and that tomato Pernod broth that sold me on going back again.

All in all, we had good, generous 3-course meals, a bottle of wine and, with tax and tip, spent about $50 each. Good food, generous portions, friendly efficient service. Tuscany Grill did DIB well.

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