- John Sep 6, 2003 08:50 AM
Well the above establishment probably does not loom large either on this Board or in the consciousness of Hounds. Suffice it to say that curiosity about its Italian buffet based on its promotions over the years, coupled with a spare evening and a decidedly unsophisticated guest led me to sample its pleasures the other night. Exemplary cuisine ? no. Some unexpected pleasures ? yes.
Friday 7:00 pm - despite tales of 2-hour line-ups we were seated right away. The waiter kept the "bottomless" soft drink filled up throughout the evening. An elaborate drinks menu featuring mai tais et al in souvenir glasses suggests where one profit centre is. Bill arrived quickly when asked. Crowd, casually dressed, a mix of family groups and large celebrations for birthdays etc. Profusion of smallish rooms keeps the noise level tolerable.
Food (all of which seems made in small portions and was frequently replenished before my eyes):
Garlic toast made with real garlic and decent bread
Sliced sirlon steak off the grill (a Friday evening feature) offered medium rare or medium well - odd bit of gristle but flavoursome and well-seasoned - with a good vat of tasty peppercorn sauce to the side
Caesar Salad with a bit of a bite
Roast veal with gravy to the side: excellent, moist, well-seasoned - and seemingly few takers
Roast potatoes flavoured with garlic, butter and parsley
A really meaty, cheesy lasagne: didn't look much on steam tray but was toothsome enough, perhaps slightly under-seasoned relative to rest of offerings
About 16 flavours of gelato - not up to La Palma, but pleasant and variegated - Tiger Tail to Cappucino Frost to Strawberry Cheesecake...
A variety of pastry nibbles
Mounds of antipasta and veggie/fishy plates - I am not a fish or shellfish lover anyway - but the presentation didn't appeal. Friend said a seafood fettucine was good.
Veal parmesan - stringy, lukewarm, under seasoned, limp
In balance, for $16.95 (the most expensive night of the week, but paying for steak I suppose) it is not at all a bad place to take children, a crowd, a football team, etc - and a lot better than it might be.
Hope I am not expelled from the Board for writing about it !
If you are in the mood for a buffet and Italian food (not particularly authentic), I have to agree that Frankie Tomatto's isn't that bad, even though I have heard terrible things about unfresh food from other people.
I went into it not expecting much at all, but the salads are good, really liked the bruschetta, their pastas are ok, but I think the desserts are the worse thing there especially the gelato.
Everyone I went with went and took time picking the best sounding combo of gelato flavours and then at first bite had to spit it out. The only dessert that was good at all was the little eclairs.
My advice is to only eat the stuff that has to be made fresh like the hot foods and lettuce salads, but steer clear of the antipastas and desserts from the freezer/fridge.
I have only been in on a weekday lunch which is 8.99 and when you stuff yourself with all the courses for that price I really couldn't complain too much.