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Orta-Pembroke

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Had dinner here on Sunday. It was our first time back since they went under new ownership. Overall our experience was just OK but overall not as good as the previous owners/chef.

Décor, set up, etc all remained the same. If you didn’t know you would have no idea the place had changed hands and I think that is what they wanted.

We had dinner reservations for 7:15 and arrived there right on the nose. The place was almost empty- a group of four woman at one table, a couple at the pizza/kitchen bar, one or two other four tops. Two people in a booth and one large table that we later learned was the owners family-it was his birthday. The bar area was pretty full but not jam packed like we were used to seeing. No one else was seated for dinner while we were there.

Considering the place was empty we were surprised to be seated right next the group of 4 of four woman, but it was away from the door and a 4 top which is nice since my husband and I like to do a lot of sharing. A two top can get pretty crowded.

Service bordered on overly attentive. We were asked by 3 different people if we had been helped when we first arrived. Two servers plus the host asked if what kind of water we wanted. 2 servers asked if anyone had been over to take our drink orders. We started with one waiter, who took our drink order and told us the specials. Another server took over shortly afterward and started to tell us the specials. Both servers touched base with us through the night. While everyone was very nice and I get they were slow but it was too much.

The menu was dated, meaning not in season considering its November. The drink/wine list was titled “Summer Libations” and leaned heavily on a summer theme. The diner menu touted locally grown tomatoes, native corn, etc. Maybe they have a local farmer growing hot house tomatoes and corn? Bread basket was nothing special with standard olive oil/balsamic for dipping.

OK, starting with drinks-we were in the mood for cocktails and they did not disappoint. I had a “Caravella” which was a concoction of grey goose, limoncello, St germaine, basil and mint. Really delightful and refreshing. And seeing as we had just come from the new Bond movie by husband had their version of Vesper-which was made with Bombay, not Gordon’s and was infused with lavender. I really the liked the lavender twist. The average cost of cocktail was in the $10 range.

We shared two appetizers- the “local” baby tomato salad with burrata and the mini arrancini. The tomatoes were good, and there were plenty! They appeared to be ones like I had just bought at the Fruit Center which had come from Florida, and had lots of flavor. However the burrata was a disappointment as it clearly was just fresh mozzarella, torn into very small chunks, and very little of it. I recently had a fabulous burrata plate at Tosca and had some fresh made burrata I bought at Tony’s in Providence so was really looking forward to it and was the reason I ordered it. The balsamic dressing was nice and not too much of it which I prefer. The arrancini were pretty standard, without a lot of flavor themselves, but were nicely cooked and crispy. The sauce described as “spicy” was not spicy at all but was a classic marinara and quite good. Appetizers were in the $8-10 range.

Main courses, that we also split were the citrus seared salmon served with tomatoes and zucchini cakes and the veal Milanese served with asparagus and mashed potatoes. The salmon was disaster. The fish itself was heavily salted and I neither saw nor tasted any kind of citrus glaze. All you could taste the was salt. The zucchini cakes were tough-overcooked on the outside, mushy on the inside and pretty tasteless. The tomatoes (same as the salad so bad ordering on our part) were the only positive part of the dish but we had had our fill of tomatoes already. My husband like the veal- a large piece, pounded thin and crispy around the edges. The sauce was nice-lemony with quite a few capers. I thought the veal was little too tough, not pounded thin enough. Asparagus and potatoes were pretty standard-nothing bad or remarkable about them. Entrees were in the mid $20’s. On a side note they had two specials but by the time we ordered they were out of one of them and they were sold out of hanger steak.

We ended up passing on dessert- none of them caught our eye and we noticed that the table of women next us had not even come close to finishing the two they were all sharing. And if you are tea drinker they only offer the equivalent of Lipton basic black tea.

I am disappointed the overall meal was not better. Our less expensive “nicer” options are getting smaller and smaller on the South Shore. Orta was always our go to place after the movies or meeting up with friends when we had the kids in tow. Parking is plentiful and they take reservation for all size parties, a huge plus and another thing a lot of places are forgoing.

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  1. Thanks for the detailed report. A little disappointing. You're the second person this week that makes me not in a hurry to go back. Too bad.
    CocoDan