Just went to this place today for a late-ish lunch (mother's b-day). Was this the old arcade that had a central, outdoor-ish hallway and some small shops on both sides?
Decor is lovely (and seems very Restoration Hardware). We sat in the atrium, which was sunlight and airy. The back of the restaurant is rather dimly lit and has spacious booths (w/ each pair of booths sharing their own coat hangers.... very classy). I noticed on my way out the the chef seemed to be doing some sort of class or tasting menu for a small group of very bored-looking twentysomethings.
Service was polite and friendly.... Perhaps a bit on the saccharine side. My mom ordered the Salumi platter, Arancini (thinking that they were meatballs), and a shrimp salad. My dad had the lamb sausage pizza. And I had the Neapolis burger (ordered medium rare, as recommended by the server). For dessert, we had the gelato and the "non-traditional" tiramisu.
I thought the Salumi platter (which didn't have the gnocchi mentioned below) was great. The frisee mix was a bit on the overly sour side, but I guess that it made a nice contrast to the meats? Arancini was lovely (wonderfully melty cheese and rice interior).
I didn't have a taste of the shrimp salad (my mom said that the 6 nicely sized shrimp were well-cooked) or the lamb sausage pizza (my dad doesn't talk much about his food.... In size and presentation, it looked somewhere btw a pizza from CPK and Milo and Olive).
My burger was only okay. The patty was tasty, but was medium (not medium rare). The bun was too firm, but it held up well. The onion rings were a bit too limp and lukewarm.
The tiramisu tasted fine but looked a bit too "structured." My dad thought it tasted store-bought. The gelato (buttermillk, blueberry, chocolate, and mint) was quite good, as were the cookies (white chocolate, chocolate chunk oatmeal, and sugar.... I had had the sugar cookie, which was soft and not overly sweet).
Bill for 3, including tax, was 107. Overall, it was a fine place for my mom's b-day, and I'd be fine eating there again. However, I'm not necessarily dying to go back....
Thanks for the detailed write-up. I was hoping they'd improve on their food, but it appears they have not. For the price point, I expect more from the food. Good looks only get you so far ;)
FWIW, I haven't been back (and have zero desire to!). I thought I'd return to try their pizza, but when I'm craving pizza, I head to Settebello or Luggage Room.
I've been meaning to review - thanks for the kick in the pants!
I went two weeks ago - on a Wednesday night. Showed up around 6pm and it fairly empty - but, by the time I left (a little after 8pm), the place was PACKED. I had called the day prior & made a reservation.
The space is fantastic - beautifully done and easily the best of Pasadena for decor/vibe. I could not get enough of it. I wish I could say the same for the food. Overall - the food was "meh".
Cocktails: did not disappoint. I ordered the "easton" $12 - vodka/mint/cucumber?? I could have had a pitcher of this - absolutely perfect!
Apps: Salumi platter ($15) - this is where the disappointment began. It was a beautiful presentation and touted to be 'house cured" which set my expectations high. There were 5 different kinds, 2 pieces of each (I can not remember them all - and they were very quickly rattled off when presented at the table - I wish they had a little list). It was served with frisee and tiny pieces of pickled veggies, a delicious cherry compote (the star of the dish, IMO), and fried gnocchi (which reminded me of plain, stale, donuts). I enjoyed most of the meats, but wouldn't order it again.
Main: I ordered the Osso Bucco ($36) on a bed of creamy polenta. I am a huge fan of this dish in general and usually bee line to it when I see it on a menu. The meat was flavorful - but it was dry (which, to me, seems like an impossible kitchen gaff). The polenta was disappointing as well. I tried to figure what was wrong with it - it didn't seem to hold together well & was lacking flavor - perhaps I'm used to enjoying a more creamy (cheesy) polenta? The star of the dish was a delicious lemon zest that was plentiful throughout. For the price point of this dish - I expected perfection. This was easily only passible and nothing even close to the execution I expected.
Dessert: Warm Chocolate Cake ($9) - small portion - not worth the price tag, but a sweet note to end the meal. Like the rest of the food it was "just ok". Nothing I'd particularly throw out, but nothing to rave about or make your eyes roll to the back of your head. It did have a similar cherry compote on top (much like what was on the salumi platter) - which was delicious and interesting. But, dessert could have been easily skipped.
The pizzas that were coming out looked delicious! Thin crust, dinner plate sized. I want to return for cocktails & pizza! The pasta looked promising as well. Served in half or full portions (the 1/2 portion I saw was appetizer size).
The service was, quite frankly, confusing. I sat in the front room (high ceilings, very airy, tables extremely close together) - we were greeted/addressed by 3 or 4 different people, had a 5th server take our order and then disappear. I wanted a glass of wine with dinner - it was difficult to flag someone down (my back was to the main room, and my constant turning around was futile). I was finally successful, but it took awhile and came out as I was finishing my last bites (which I saved for the wine). Everyone was very nice, but it didn't seem as though roles were clearly defined (it reminded me of service at a cooking school restaurant - eager to please, but uncertain).
The main room with the bar is bustling and quite noisy when full - mostly booth seating in this area. There's a great counter space with a few bar stool seats that would be ideal for watching the kitchen action. There's also upstairs - with tables better spaced out (than the front room). It was quite warm upstairs (vs much cooler in the front room).
I really wanted to love the food here and have a feeling the pasta/pizza/cocktails route is the way to go... at least for now!
re: The Oracle
Thanks for the report! The service issues might be attributable to the place being newly opened, so I won't let that stop me at this point (now, if they're still having problems 3 months from now, there's more cause for concern).
I hope to hear soon about the pizzas & pastas; that is where they'll need to shine to win my business (I can happily skip main courses if you give me a good pizza & pasta).
The drinks I had were indeed fantastic-I had one of their featured cocktails which was called a Peaches and Herb. The arancinis were delicious as was the creamy mozzerela on the caprese.
Of the entrees my party ordered, I liked the gnocchi the best. The appetizers and sides we had were more memorable in my opinion than the entrees.
Service was very good. I think this place is worth checking out, but funds would keep me from making regular stops!