Our friends had dined here previously on the bruschetta, and wanted us to enjoy their find, so we made our way to this attractive restaurant combining traditional Mediterranean colors and arches, with contemporary glass walls and floating wood flooring, for a late lunch. The barrels piled high with mums in bloom lining the perimeter of the restaurants exterior were very bright and inviting. Admittedly the bruschetta, piled 1.5" high with 1/2" cubes of ripe local grown tomatoes, which they ordered and we sampled was excellent, but neither my wife nor I could recall if the Bietoli salad of fennel, beets, arugula, and shaved reggiano, although fresh, had any dressing or was distinctive in any way.
While my wife had ordered the salad, which we split, I ordered the Pollo y Salsiccia Scarpariello, chicken chunks in 1 to 2 cubic inch size containing lumps of fat and connective tissue, sliced sausage, roasted garlic, mushrooms, and 1 inch square/halved spicy cherry peppers that overpowered everything else on the plate and destroyed one's palate when ingested. Avoiding the peppers allowed us to enjoy the savory sauce of this dish, but this sauce could do little to deal with the dry chicken chunks that had to be cut for size (thus w/o infused flavor) and excised of adipose and connective tissue. The imbalance of the ingredients, the lack of a melding or infusion of flavors, and the dissection required were disappointing to say the least. My wife left several large chicken chunks.
Every meal comes with a price. We just weren't prepared for the bill we received, which included a $10.00 split charge because I requested that the waitress split our $18.00 salad and $28.00 Scarpariello, rather than our doing it ourselves at the table, so that we could try both dishes, rather than over order and waste food and money. Neither of us noted the $10.00 plate charge at the bottom of the menu, but this type of charge is rarely seen at good restaurants and is repugnant in its assumption that the guests are trying to cheat the restaurant by taking up space without ordering sufficient food. The staff's handling and then putting a couple of extra dishes through the dishwasher is not that big a deal and can never justify this type of charge.
Additionally, earlier in the day, we had been wine tasting and had purchased some wine at a local vineyard, but were discouraged from trying it at the Tuscan House by their $35.00 corkage fee. The bill also listed a $10.00 charge for the bottle of imported water, Acqua Panna, that our friends had approved, which with tip and tax, approached $13.00 for the liter bottle. It lists on line for a little over $2.00 a bottle. Obviously some restaurants don't mind ripping off their customers; which might explain why there was only one other table of guests when we arrived on a Saturday afternoon.
The remarkable thing about the imported water, which we would never order in the USA due to the high quality of local water, was that on approval, the waitress took the display bottle off the table, went to the kitchen and came back with an already opened bottle, which as far as I was concerned could have contained tap water. Our friend commented that she would never accept an open bottle when abroad. Ironically, the mineral water was unremarkable; no one finished their glass or asked for a refill.
The service was good, despite the pretentious fresh pepper mill offering. [Pepper is dried, not fresh, although its aroma and strength characteristics are related to its length of exposure to the ambient.] At the end of the meal, I had to wait over ten minutes to wash my hands as the men’s room consisted of one small room that was locked by another user. Similarly the woman were stacked three deep to use the Lady’s room.
If your dining experience is defined primarily by ambiance, pretension, and high prices, rather than a really great meal at an honest price, you'll love this place. The entree menu was mostly pasta, which may be the restaurant's forte, while the meat and fish selection was minimal, and instead of prices associated with the dishes containing shrimp and clams, it listed p/a. I've never seen this at any other restaurant anywhere in the US or abroad.
Now I've seen everything - thanks to the Tuscan House.
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