Columbo's in Hyannis
We were in town getting some errands done and were hungry. We saw this new spot (new to us) so we went in. It was a bustling place. A friendly host seated us right away. A friendly server took our beverage order. My teen had Pellagrino Limonade and I had tea. It took awhile to get the tea but when it came it was worth the wait. The organic jasmine tea came in a little divine sachet and was a lovely blend. It took about 20 min. to place our order after we stopped another server. I asked the server some questions but she seemed vague about how the calamari was prepared so I took a chance and ordered that. It said it came in Marinara Sauce (app for 9.95). My teen ordered an Italian club (9.95). Bread came 20 min. later (chewy and crusty). The problem that was obvious from start to finish was the heat. It came on in waves and at one point we had to take off our sweaters and later I had to go outside. I commented to the waitress and she said it was always hot inside. I was so uncomfy. One minute after our bread came our food came. My plate was full of sauteed calamari in a very orangy oily marinara sauce. The oil was evident around the side. It was also salty. My teen tried it and agreed.A toastini was in the middle that I used to drain the soft delicious calamari. My teen liked her sandwich well enough. We left quickly wrapping up the second half as the heat was too much. The bill with tip was over 30.00. There is a covered patio outside that might be fun in the Summer. Since I am never here in the Summer I won't see it. It might be a fun place for some Cappucino but I will pass on dining.
I think the owner struggles with getting a good crew in there to do it right... Even at his other establishment(Roadhouse) I have seen a drop in consistency & quality , I'm sure the summer people will hit it but us seasoned year-rounders will always look around for something better for your $$..
My wife and I just went to Colombo's this past weekend for the first time and there were some hits and misses as well as some oddities.
First I'll start with the wine. Colombos has riedel glasses and actually utilizes different models for different wines; I noticed 3 separate glasses for white, red bordeaux, and pinot. When I got the wine list, it was several pages long and probably approached 100 different bottle options. All of the above gave me a positive vibe, but when I reviewed the Italian selections I was disappointed in my options. My price point in a restaurant usually runs between $40 - $60 for a bottle of wine. Of the choices they had for Italian reds, there were probably a dozen selections below $40 and 3 or 4 selections above $90.... with nothing in between. This was oddity #1 in my book. Despite the focus on glassware and a decent size wine list, they came up way short in covering the price spectrum and ended up omitting the most important range - - - the mid range. Their list appears to be focused on simple, low priced bottles and also expensive, premium bottles with little (if any) effort given in the middle where (in my opinion) the best values are usually found on restaurant lists.
Note: while there were several red wine selections between $40 - $80 outside of the "Italian" section (ie: US Cabs and Pinots, etc), the set up seemed to be similar with many low end and high end options but little in between.
Onto the food.
I ordered the Grilled Shrimp with a roasted red pepper pesto, served over greens. I was expecting to get fresh shrimp that were brushed with a pesto sauce while they cooked on the grill. Instead what I got was barely grilled shrimp (that I'm 99% sure were frozen, not fresh) sitting atop some greens along with a cold cup of red pepper pesto on the side. Without basting the pesto on the shrimp, the flavors never had a chance to meld as they should have. I rarely order shrimp as an appetizer because they are generally so boring, but I had high hopes for this dish and was completely let down. And to top it off, our dinner selections arrived while I was only half way through eating my appetizer... and I'm not a slow eater by any means.
As a group we had the Veal Saltimbocca w/ risotto (me), Turkey Bolognese over angel hair (wife), cheese pizza (son, 5), and spaghetti & meatballs (daughter, 3).
My dish was probably the worst of the bunch. The veal quality was OK, but it was just a tad overcooked, and the sauce and risotto were just wrong. The veal was completely oversauced to the point it was swimming in it's own BOWL while the risotto came in yet another bowl. There is no need to serve Veal Saltimbocca in a bowl as it should only have a faint touch of jus - - - barely enough to drip off the veal and touch the plate at all. This heavy, rich sauce was complete overkill and hid all the tender flavors of the veal itself. The risotto? Sticky, falling apart, and probably made hours (dear I say a day?) before it was reheated and served. Risotto is not easy to make, but if you are going to attempt it, do it right or don't do it at all.
My wife's turkey Bolognese was a pleasant surprise as it had good flavor and was made in the correct Bolognese style - - - you could see the onions and carrots, you could tell it was simmered slowly with milk, and it had a good balance of tomatos (not too many, not too few). Too many times restaurants label basic meat sauce as Bolognese without going through the effort to prepare it properly. This was done right, and the turkey gave the dish a lighter (but still flavorful) overall feel, which will definitely be a better summer choice than a traditional beef/pork/veal Bolognese.
My daughter's meatball was pretty well made - - very moist and tender - - which was perfect for kids. My son's pizza was very nice too. Good grilled thin crust, simple tomato sauce (not thick or rich), and mozzarella cheese only (ie: no cheddar or asiago or other non-traditional cheese that too many places on the Cape try to add to pizzas). I'd easily recommend getting a pizza as and appetizer or dinner here.
It's almost like Colombo's was aiming “high end” with their menu selections and their wine program, but they fell a bit short in quality and execution. Still, it wasn't a bad restaurant by any means and since they accommodated kids nicely, I will return."
I would probably give their wine list a C+ grade which could easily be raised by replacing some higher end ($80+) bottle selections with more choices in the $40 - $60 range. As for their food, I would give them a straight B, though I'd have to get back again and try a few more things to really validate that mark.
Nice report Foley. Very detailed and thorough! I concur on your assessment of the veal saltimboca there. It's definately one of the weakest menu items there and hope you do return to sample something else as I think the place is worth our support. I too was taken aback when my bveal arrived in a bowl drowned with sauce. (BTW...for a sublime presentation of the dish, try Tomatoes in Sandwhich).
My only question/comment relates to your expectation of "fresh" vs. "frozen" shrimp. I believe it's nearly impossible to get fresh, never frozen shrimp anywhere on the Cape, or nearly anywhere in the country for that matter. It can be found at locales where it's caught locally, we do get Maine shrimp on accasion when in season. I've also had fresh gulf shrimp in the deep south and in places like New Orleans. But I do believe 99.9% of all shrimp served is frozen at sea, as is King Crab and Snow crab, and Aussie lobster tails.
Thanks again for the write up.
We made it back a few weeks ago for our 2nd visit (with kids again) and I had better results with the options selected.
We started with a pair of pizzas - - kind of an appetizer for us and dinner for the kids. We had a cheese with 1/2 pepperoni and we had a mashed potoato, carmelized onion pizza. I'll have to say that they make some of the best pizza out on the Cape - - they were fairly thin, they used mozzerella on their cheese pizzia (ie: no bizzare cheddar addition as many places on the Cape seem to do), and the crust was baked well.
My wife opted for the turkey bolognese again and it impressed once more. I had a special which was cajun swordfish and it was preparred well - - not overcooked, good blackened spices on the outside, and good depth of heat from the spices. It was served with mashed potatoes which my kids devoured.
This isn't an "A" place I would go with my wife, but it is a solid B+ that is ultra kid friendly (kids menu, crayons, plenty of noise). The place was packed too on a Wed night. The only thing I thought was odd was the live music (2 people) playing in the outdoor section; I thought 5:30 pm was a bit early for live music and it added a little too much volume to the dining area, so this visit we opted to sit inside.
Our only (minor) complaint was the slowness in getting dessert - - we orderd gelato for the kids and it took nearly 30 minutes to arrive. The waitress appologized and said the gelato station was backed up, but I think she was just covering for a missed order.
I found their website for those interested:
We've gone to Colombo's several times since they opened and really love the food but I know exactly what you mean about the heat. For some reason, even though it's a brand new space, they can't regulate the temperatures properly. We've had the heat blasting on us, and once the ac was blasting in the dead of winter. It's mostly a problem in the booth area so we now try to sit on the pub tables near the bar where it doesn't seem to be an issue. It's too bad really, as the place succeeds on every other level. I like the room. The food prep is quite good. The menu is reasonably priced for the quality of ingredients. We've had Veal Parm, Chicken Parm, Pasta Bolognese, Pasta with Clams, Lobster Ravioli, Swordfish Puttanesca, and their terrific homemade gnocchi. The only disappointing dish was the Veal Milanaise which was just too dry to be enjoyable. Deserts are quite good as is the gelato. The service is not always top notch but not terrible by any means. This has really become one of our go-to places on Main Street but like you, I really with they'd get their heat working properly!