Bianchi's in Naples
We went for Valentine's day dinner (I know, not the best way to evaluate a restaurant) and as with most new places, its a mixed bag. The decor is on the dark, wooded side with stone floors and high ceilings. The bar is at the back of the restaurant and immediately behind the bar is a towering wall of wine with enormous panes of glass separating the bottles from the dining room.
Too bad the wines inside weren't as well thought out as they should be. Very heavy on Italians and standard usurious markups.
On to the food. Appetizers were OK, but hardly thrilling. Pretty standard bastardization of Oysters Rockefeller, watery shrimp coctail and one fugly Caesar salad that could have passed for a cafeteria standby. The kitchen got the lobster right, perfectly tender and flavorful. Its accompanying risotto was a hot mess of overcooked shellfish and gummy rice.
will I go back? Yes, if I can pay a reasonable fee for corkage and go when its not as hectic, which shouldn't be a problem this summer.
"Not the best way to evaluate a restaurant" is a gross understatement. My suggestion is to revisit one of our areas brightest new spots. Bianchi's is new to Naples although the owner is not. In todays economic climate, we found both the food and the story behind Bianchi's excellent and uplifting.
More people were commenting on the great prices, unique entertainment (seven nights) and Vic Bianchi, the host and name behind the daughter's choice for "Bianchi's". This blue collar Pittsburgh family has brought a bright spot to our gluttony of sub par eating establishments.
Our appetizers were excellent, espically during a great happy hour where they were half price. The "bastardization" of Oysters Rockefeller was most likely a product of 365 dinners served on Valentines Day, Our experience was so much better than TedH depicts on his special evening.
The wine list, heavy on the "Italians", no kidding! Third generation from Italy, what did you expect....a nice pink Zinfendale? Yes I took the time to meet the owner, Christine, her father Vic and had a great chat with them about their passion for serving good, affordable food in an inviting environment.
Our extended family will be visiting in early March and we plan on reserving 25 seats for dinner.
Best of luck to Bianchi's!!
I think a little history is in order here. Chrissy has been in the area for about 15 years and I have enjoyed countless wonderful breakfasts and lunches at Chrissy's, dating back to her first place on Airport & Radio. The Bayfront location is especially good for lunch (the pannini rocks BTW) and they have made a very good stab at standarization, which may be the hardest thing to implement in small chains. Does that mean that the food at the upscale establishment is automtically good? Of course not, but management obviously has a strong depth of talent to draw from and I'm confident they will find their groove and settle in as one of the better destination restaurants in Naples. However, the oysters were their house recipe which bears very little resemblance to what you would get at Antoine's or Galatoire's and that won't change regardless of wheter they serve 50 covers or 350. All I was trying to communicate is that some dishes need work and some are very respectable.
As far as the wine list goes, what can I say, I'm picky. Ubiquitous pinot grigio and industry standard chardonnay's dont get my pulse racing, but a few well chosen additions could change the dynamics immensley. And FWIW, I've consumed well over a thousand bottles of Zin and not one has been that nasty aboimination foisted upon us by Beringer and Sutter Home.
Naples needs Bianchi's and restaurants like it to thrive and provide us with more diverse dining spots. It would be a crime for Chrissy and her husband not to make it because they are driven, good hearted and genuinely interested in making dining enjoyable.
Bianchi's served very good Italian food for months. I ate there once, and was to go back this week and write a review on two visits. Chef Gino cooked food wonderfully. Bianchi's was very busy in the season, and in the off season, was down to maybe a few tables a night. Chrissy and Fadi said they would open 3 new places this year. There's one that says it's open and serving on the answering machine, but I hear fromfriends that it's not open. That's Chrissy's at Courthouse Shadows, 3340 Tamiami Trl, Naples, 417-5050.
Chrissy and Fadi opened quite a few places recently , despite a lousy economy. Two years ago, all would be thriving, not now. The people at the courthouse buy breakfast, lunch and dinner at Mr. 5, where breakfast and lunch are $5 for a very good quantity of very good fare. Dino Redzic had several restaurants at the Courthouse Square site-all initially busy, then empty, despite good food and prices. Chrissy has a big challenge opening here-people around the area are not spenders.
Bianchi's closing is very sad-Chrissy put her heart into the place, and the food and service were very, very good.