Monday, January 21, 2008

Review: Risotto

OK, I know it's been a while. I was sick right after New Year's and we had Rugrat's birthday to deal with. But honestly, I just haven't been cooking much, and what I have cooked has been pretty basic, run-of-the-mill stuff (or stuff I've already posted about; Mr Wonderful is asking about the Yum Yum Chicken Enchilada casserole again, so I'll have to throw that together one of these days). However, Mr Wonderful and I did go out to dinner at a "new" (to us, anyway) restaurant here in Antioch, called Risotto.

The restaurant has actually been around for about a year, and I was surprised to hear that because I would have thought they'd have improved after being in business for so long. From the top:

We both ordered the prix fixe meal, as we were there on a Thursday night at around 6:15 PM. It's four courses for about $22, if you're there Sun-Thurs before 7 PM. We both got different dishes for each course, so I think we got a pretty good overview of their menu.

First up was soup: I had butternut squash/apple soup and he had the roasted portobello mushroom soup. They were both fantastic; the only quibble we had is that the mushroom soup had no garnish whatsoever and it looked like a bowl of mud. It could have used a little swirl of creme fraiche or sour cream, and maybe a bit of parsley. But the flavor of both soups was outstanding.

Next came the salad course. My salad was a wine country standard, with candied walnuts, bleu cheese crumbles, baby greens and a balsamic vinaigrette. Nice, but standard. Nothing to write home about. His salad was Greek-style, with olives, feta, tomatoes and a slightly lemony dressing (with maybe a little dill or oregano in it). Again, perfectly serviceable but nothing outstanding.

Third course was our pasta, and this is where things started to fall apart. My tortellini with prosciutto and peas was quite nice, except that the tortellini was overcooked a little. I did appreciate that they didn't drown the pasta in the alfredo sauce; there was just enough sauce without it being overwhelming. Mr Wonderful's pasta was pretty bad, though. His mostaccioli (large tube-shaped pasta) was undercooked, but the chicken in his dish was quite overcooked, to the point that it was dry and almost tough. The sauce was horribly underseasoned as well; it didn't taste like much of anything, which is pretty difficult to do with a tomato-based sauce. The sauce desperately needed salt, onions, garlic, sausage...something! It was completely bland. On the plus side, the dishes were nicely presented. We would have preferred that they grated the parmesan over our dishes at the table, instead of sprinkling pre-grated cheese with a spoon, but that was a minor quibble overall.

To wrap things up, I opted for the apple galette while he stuck with his favorite - tiramisu. My apple tart was nearly inedible. The apples were bland beyond measure, unpeeled and again, horribly underseasoned, with a nearly rubbery bit of pastry on top. Mr Wonderful's tiramisu was a disappointment as well: the plating was disastrous, with little chunks of the tiramisu scattered around the main portion, and the texture was all wrong; the ladyfingers were soggy and had no body whatsoever.

All in all, it was an uneven meal. We'll keep it in our rotation, but probably just order soup to go rather than risk another pasta dish. And the desserts should be taken off their menu altogether; if you can't do the pastry right, just serve ice cream.


east bay weekly said...

what a shame! we have always wanted to check out risotto but were intimidated. thanks for saving us a trip.

they say carpaccio is always good. and please try sawadee on A Street (Starbucks arcade) should you crave Thai. The owner cooks and it has been always excellent for us.


Snarkmeister said...

I actually haven't tried Carpaccio yet; it's been on my to-do list for a while. I've heard good things about it too, so maybe it's time to give it a shot. In general I haven't been really impressed by the Italian food choices out here in the far east county.

I have been to the Thai place on A street (several years ago) and it was quite good. Have you tried India 4 U (to the left of Target in the Slatten Ranch center)? That's our favorite Indian place.

east bay weekly said...

oh, i keep forgetting to tell you that sawadee thai resto was taken over only in 2006 by a new owner. she used to run rice village in martinez.

so if you ate at sawadee before 2006, try it again: spring rolls, pad thai, and tomyum shrimp soup.

also, that afghan resto (also off A st. and 18th) has closed :( and has now been replaced by a cheescake cafe.