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Mar 16, 2009 05:12 AM

Winter 2009 Restaurant Week Reviews

Figured I'd start things off with a positive review of Rialto last night. Three of us had a very satisfying dinner, exceeding my admittedly low expectations for the evening. (I'd last had dinner at Rialto a couple years ago, non-RW, and was quite disappointed. However, a good bar small plates experience a couple months ago moved me to give them another try...)

For the first course two of us had the mushroom soup with horseradish cream -- good mushroom flavor. I had the spring greens risotto, which was flavorful but a bit oversalted for my taste. The soup won that round. There were several other first course options, including two salads, and an antipasti plate.

For the second course our table had the atlantic mackerel (nicely done on a carrot puree blend), a whole trout (also nicely done) and a grilled sliced flank steak with a small stack of polenta, mozz, and grilled eggplant (the steak was perfectly medium-rare, and just the right level of chewiness and beefy-ness.)

For dessert we had one of each of the three choices -- a chocolate torte (standard but good, not overly sweet), pineapple sorbet with coconut cream (refreshing and light), and orange panna cotta with a slice of orange-almond cake (deceptively light and refreshing with the citrus notes.)

All in all, the dinner was quite good, and we left feeling full but not about to burst.

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  1. Went ot Villa Francesca last night for RW (first time there). First course my DC had the Caeser salad (nice, but not spectacular), I had the lobster ravioli, quite good if just up to the edge of fishiness in a dish I can take. Dc had a veal eggplant dish that came with yummy potatoes and spinach. I had a perfectly cooked pork chop with mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe (as well as two small spinach ravioli). Dessert were uninspiring, an ok creme brulee, and an small and only OK cannoli. Service was fine. My only issue would be going back. The ravioli were good, but they are $18.95 on the regular menu, and it didn't look to me that you get any more (I got two on my plate). The veal dish my wife had was $30 on the reg menu. A bit pricy for what it was.

    1. Went to Olives last night for dinner (menu is online). Good service (although a bit rushed at the end, we probably had the last reservation, it's a pet peeve of mine to have servers take away plates before everyone at the table is done). Had the seafood soup to start - tasty lobster toast with a nice piece of lobster tail. Soup was OK - nothing distinguishable about it. I tried the clams app as well and it was good, but my friend who had the eggplant/lamb/goat cheese dish chose wisely. The combination of flavors and textures worked perfectly. I had the scallops for dinner, which were very good and perfectly cooked (although nothing outstanding/original). One DC's beef was overcooked, but the other two DC"s beef were OK. (On a side note, waiter overheard her say that it was overcooked and offered to bring out another piece. She said it wasn't necessary though - I expected him to do something for her, but he didn't). Dessert - the beignets were great, collapsed wonderfully when bitten in to, the sauces were interesting. I had the lemon chiffon cake which came with the most delightful coconut marshmallows. The entire dish was quite good as a whole.

      All in all, Olives was a good experience, it's easy to find parking although a pain to get to, and I would go back non-RW.

      1. Had a wonderful dinner at La Morra last night. They are doing RW in a different way this year. Full menu. Can order 3 courses for $33.09 or get anything that you want a la carte. Basically the whole menu is available - just pick one thing from each category. I was much happier not having to order a main course by the time I got done with the Cicchetti (polpetti, arancini and pickled veggies), the cauliflower app, and the pasta (an amazing parsnip ravioli with pancetta and oyster mushrooms). It was all amazing. Great service at the bar - including a lovely little amuse buche from the kitchen.

        1. Avila was great last night; every item seasoned and cooked perfectly.
          gnocchi and shortrib app with creamy sauce, lamb entree w polenta cake and garlic spinach, and panna cotta. also amuse bouche of goat cheese potato soup.
          loved it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: benjig

            We've had nice dinners at Avila, and are returning there Friday for RW. The gnocchi and shortribs sound great, hope they're on the menu Friday. Glad to see they are offering panna cotta again. There's is one of the best in town.

          2. Anyone been to Bina for RW? I was waiting for their menu to be published and finally found it on

            5 Replies
            1. re: Suze123

              Not yet - I'm going in a week and a half - can't wait!

              Thanks for posting the menu --

              1. re: Suze123

                thanks for posting the menu for BiNA. We're going this Sunday.

                1. re: Suze123

                  We went to Bina Osteria last night: we started with a breadbasket accompanied by 'pig butter' -- a small bowl of lard (i think?) infused with deep herbal flavors -- quite addictive. then we had the calamari salad and parsnip soup for appetizers, both were excellent, though the calamari almost tasted raw, which was fine for me but some may find off-putting. for mains we had the pasta e fagioli -- the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente but lacked real flavor and had a grainy sauce; we also had the pollo al diavolo, which was also under-flavored, and came in a strangely pale tubular form. while the presentation was artful, none of the sauces on the plate added anything to the limp tube of chicken. dessert was a nice change of pace: we tried all three, the poached pear (fantastic), panna cotta (quite good and generously portioned) and orange crostata (great for citrus lovers). service was excellent -- attentive without being obtrusive. they also have a list of 10+ wines for $33/bottle -- we had the cortese, which was good but not remarkable (have had excellent wines at Bin 26, so was a bit disappointed in the selection). all in all, a very pleasant experience with the odd exception of some pretty bland main courses. the menu seems quite different from their regular dinner menu, so I wonder if they didn't make some poor choices for restaurant week entrees. given how much more expensive it is on a regular (non-resto-week) night, i'm not sure I'd return, except maybe for a drink and dessert.

                  1. re: smooncakes

                    Thanks for your review. When I saw the menu link posted above, I was kind of disappointed with it and the few choices. We're going tonight, so it's a bit late to change our minds now.

                    1. re: smooncakes

                      We went to BiNA last night, and all 3 of us were VERY pleased with the RW.

                      2 of us got the Pasnip soup, which I thought was heavenly. The added basil oil was nice, as was the toasted almonds. My husband got the calamari which he really enjoyed.

                      For entrees, 2 of us got the Blue Cod. Very, very good. The fish was super fresh and just delicious. I think the sauce was leek/potato puree which was nice but a bit salty. The fish came with some "foam". 1 person got the pasta, which she liked. She said the sauce was nice yet not heavy.

                      I had the panna cotta for dessert. It's so huge that I couldn't finish. I thought the vanilla flavor was a bit bland.

                      Service was really good, even though we were cheapskates (1 beer, 1 tea and that's it for drinks). Not sure if we would go back outside of RW mainly because of the prices.