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Need a Middletown, CT restaurant suggestion (I have criteria!)

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Five old friends have decided to meet up for dinner and drinks on a Saturday night and Middletown is a central location. We are all women ranging from 30-35 and one is a vegetarian. Most are adventurous eaters except for one whose only food hatred revolves around sushi. Looking for a place with ambiance where we can have some drinks and food and not be too rushed. I would say moderate price is key since we run the financial gamut in this crowd (maybe less than $20/entree?).
The only Middletown place I am familiar with these days is Eli Cannons and while I love the beer selection, that's not what I am aiming for. Any thoughts?

Eli Cannon's
695 Main St, Middletown, CT 06457

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  1. A good option might be Tuscany Grill on College Street just off of Main.
    They accept reservations, are moderately priced, and have ambiance (at least I think so). They also have low-key (won't interfere too much with talking) live music most weekend nights.

    Tuscany Grill
    600 Plaza Middlesex, Middletown, CT 06457

    1. Tuscany Grill is also a good call (tho' I haven't been for dinner in a LONG time). My tried and true fave that fits your criteria is Fiore II on Main St.


      We went for a nice leisurely lunch recently and it's as great as I ever remember it.

      Forbidden City (across the street from Fiore) is another option in the same price range (give or take a few pricier outliers). Gorgeous spot, very good service, very good food (their lamb was especially tasty and I love their hot and sour soup and spring rolls). I've been for lunch recently a couple of times and have been for dinner a while back.

      With either or these two options--or Tuscany--you'll get what you're after for sure. Have a great night and let us know where you end up!

      Forbidden City
      335 Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457

      Tuscany Grill
      600 Plaza Middlesex, Middletown, CT 06457

      2 Replies
      1. re: kattyeyes

        Fiore was my first thought also. Great food, great value. It's our "go to" place in Middletown. The only problem is that you may wait a while for a table on a Saturday night because they only accept reservations for parties of six or more ( I guess you could invent one "no-show"... I wouldn't tell).

        1. re: jkuhlen

          Oh, HA HA, I didn't know that. Well, I wouldn't tell, either! These things happen. Just say your friend kattyeyes canceled at the last minute... ;)

      2. Mezzo Grille on court st is a nice place for a cocktail or 2, as is Luce on main st

        1 Reply
        1. re: BiscuitBoy

          Yes re cocktails. Luce should be on the list for dinner, too, even if some of the entrees are above the OP's range. Plenty of options at or below $20. Luce is definitely my favorite spot in town.

        2. Three good places are:
          Tuscany Grille
          First and Last Tavern

          All easy to get to off of Rte 9. All on or near Main Street. All are Italian restaurants.

          1. Thanks for the suggestions. I will present all options to the group and let you know where we end up!

            1. So we ended up at Tuscany Grill. Ambiance was perfect; we were seated on the mezzanine looking down at the bar so the place was lively but not too loud where we couldn't hear each other. The menu was large and varied enough that it satisfied the whole group, vegetarian included. Food was good all around with a couple of minor complaints because I am picky like that ;)

              Fried calamari was standard (but good!), some sort of beef/puff pastry appetizer was ordered that was very delicious, a couple steaks in various forms were ordered and cooked perfectly, their sweet potato bacon hash that came with the flank steak is fantastic. The portions were very large, I took home leftovers and got two dinners out of mine so the value for the dollar is good..and now for my nitpicks.

              A risotto (with some sort of cheese) that came with a mahi mahi special was a bit stiff and tasted more like cheese flavored Rice a Roni. My friend who ordered it liked it but I would have been disappointed. The flank steak came with broccoli rabe that was blanched, which is fine, but otherwise had zero seasoning. Not a speck of salt or anything to give it any flavor. It was also a little soggy. They also managed to screw up our bill several times. First it came with three appetizers we never ordered. They came back with a new bill which then had wine on it that we didn't order. It took a little bit of back and forth to work that out.

              All in all it was a great place for a group and I would go back again.

              Tuscany Grill
              600 Plaza Middlesex, Middletown, CT 06457