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Primo Bacio in Wyncote/Cheltenham

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We ate at Primo Bacio for the first time last night. My mother just moved into the building (it is on the first floor of The Towers at Wyncote, formerly Trilogy and the Cedarbrook Apartments -- Building 1), so we were excited to try this oh-so-convenient place. We had a very good meal!

They are currently BYOB, although they have an application for a liquor license posted in the front window, and a large and attractive bar is front and center as you enter the restaurant. It is obvious they are planning to offer alcohol as soon as they can.

Decor is lovely, very modern and clean but comfortable. A mixture of tables and banquettes along the perimeter of the restaurant. Lighting was very attractive, and art and flower decorations were thoughtfully placed. There was a fresh flower on each table in a low vase -- nice but unobtrusive.

Service was a enthusiastic but a little uneven. Our server confessed that she had only been on the job for a few weeks, and she seemed uncertain of what to recommend on the menu. We had several questions about the various fish dishes, and she could only answer based on what other people had ordered before us, not what she had personally sampled. She was not able to remember what the day's M.P. fish offering was, and we never did find out. She was eager to take our order and kept returning to the table until we felt a bit rushed (the menu is extensive and we wanted to look a bit at everything before deciding). Once we had placed our orders, she did check back to make sure she had gotten everything right. It was a little annoying that she had to do this, but definitely preferable to getting the wrong dishes.

The food was excellent overall. We had the following:

Bread brought to table was warm. I love warm bread! It was a nice soft bread with a wonderfully chewy crust. The butter served alongside was a compound butter with garlic and roasted red pepper. Very tasty.

Fried baby artichokes with lemon, fresh oregano and marinara sauce for dipping. Terrific! The fresh oregano and lemon juice squeezed over the artichokes really made all the flavors pop.

Shrimp bisque. This was the day's soup, which my husband pronounced superb.

Green salads. Pretty standard, very fresh. Balsamic dressing was a creamy balsamic.

Frutti di Mare special. My mother enjoyed this array of fish -- they cooked it well-done for her.

Frutti di Mare over fettucine with pepper vodka cream sauce. This was delicious, although very rich. Because I often make "vodka cream sauce" at home using pepper vodka and tomatoes, I was surprised when this was a white sauce. My mistake, not theirs. I did not taste any pepperiness to the sauce, which I generally do when using pepper vodka to cook at home. Shrimp, scallops and crabmeat were all cooked perfectly, as was the fettucine. This could have been a gloppy mess but it was great.

Kids' cheese ravioli with fresh tomato sauce. Standard ravioli, cooked perfectly so not mushy. The sauce was terrific, very fresh-tasting with large pieces of yummy basil. Our 4-year-old polished it off with gusto.

Orrechiette with sausage, broccoli rabe and garlic. This was my husband's entree. He said it was better when hot, but when I tasted it I thought it was too bitter. The flavors did not seem to meld together, but all asserted themselves a little too boldly. Maybe if the sausage had been a little sweeter, or the broccoli rabe sauteed a little longer to bring out some sweetness? Like I said, though, my husband did like it and his tastes run less sweet than my own.

I really hope they succeed because it's great to have another semi-upscale dining option in our area. The owner spoke to us as we were on our way out and was very personable.

Give it a try!

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  1. Our visit, for a Saturday night dinner, started with high hopes. While P.B. is definitely a welcome addition to the Northwest 'burbs dining scene, our experience was pretty uneven.

    The relatively busy dining room seemed to have plenty of staff but very inconsistent and what was sometime quite slow service. Wait staff struggled to describe the specials but quickly offered a coupon sheet, which promised 20% off our check.

    The bread was practically tasteless and our first wine choice, the house Chianti, was not available. We typically split an entree, something that PB handles with a $7 sharing charge, which seems high but is actually quite reasonable when we learned it came with a second soup or salad, and a larger than normal portion.

    The artichoke appetizer was cleverly presented but the sparse dusting of cheese and seasoning was disappointing. Two house salads followed soon after and were fresh and reasonable size, nothing remarkable. Our pasta entree, spaghetti alla carbonara, was prepared in a traditional fashion.

    There was nice selection of desserts and our chocolate tartufo was delicious.

    Settling the bill was a time consuming exercise. Apparently the 20% coupon that was was so eagerly given to us at the beginning of the meal took several staff and about 15 minutes to figure out. In the end I suspect we got a larger discount but given the drama to just get a check, we just paid it.

    They have an interesting and quite reasonably priced lunch menu, and we look forward to trying their take out pizza.

    Given its convenient location and the dearth of alternatives, PB should succeed tough we'd like to see more consistent service.