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L'Artusi Mini-Review

Disclaimer: I enjoy great food but not sure I would call myself a foodie... but here's my take on last night's dinner...

Ambiance/Seating/Noise Level:
So my friend (whom I hadn't seen in about 15 years) and I met last night for an 8:30 pm dinner @ L'Artusi. We had tons to talk about of course but the noise level was insane both downstairs and upstairs!!! We were originally seated downstairs but the noise level was so bad that we were practically shouting at each other to converse (even our waiter admitted that the noise level was pretty high and apologized). We're both petite so there was a limit to how far we could lean across the table to talk with each other... :D

I'm usually not picky about seating, but I asked the hostess whether we could move to a quieter area or a corner table since my friend and I literally could barely hear each other. They were really nice about the table change and quite understanding. Our table upstairs was a tad bit better but we could still hear other people's conversation since the table's were so close together and still had to talk quite loudly to be able to hear each other. Bottom line: the way the tables are closely-packed and the acoustics just suck at L'Artusi...

My vodka tonic was big but bitter tasting for some reason... haha! didn't stop me from finishing it though. The wine list is extensive - it's a friggin' binder full of pages of wines by region. I believe they have a single page of it posted up on their website if you want to take a peek...

L'Artusi is basically a wine bar with small plates which my friend and I didn't realize. The waiter recommended us to order 2 dishes each (i.e., 4 dishes total) and said the kitchen need us to order everything at the same time. Since this was our first time, we weren't sure how much food to order since everyone's eyes/appetites are different...The portions were actually larger than other small plates I've had (and larger than what the waiter suggested) so we didn't finish everything! We had the following dishes:
1. crudo scallops (sea salt, olive oil, lemon, espelette) - my friend found the lemon to be overpowering on some slices but I was actually grateful since the scallops didn't really taste that fresh to me (i.e., majorly fishy aftertaste!);
2. crudo hamachi (fennel, lemon) - very delish! fresh and the pureed fennel and touch of lemon complimented the fish very nicely
3. orechiette w/ lamb sausage & swiss chard - good sized portion (according to the waiter it's a 10 oz. size portion), flavorful, lightly tossed in some tomato-based sauce, yummy sausages!; and
4. hanger steak w/ crispy potatoes & salsa bianco - i like my meat cooked rare. the steak came in medallions: crusty charred on the outside and chewy/stringy rare on the inside. I actually wished they'd brought me a steak knife because I found the very meat difficult to cut even though it was rare per my order...; my friend's and my favorite part of this dish were the potatos w/ salsa bianco (basically a lighter, airier and flavorful version of the traditional sour cream w/ onions).

Out of the dishes we ordered, I enjoyed the hamachi, the pasta and the potatos. We didn't order dessert or coffee because by then we were tired of the place and frankly underwhelmed...

The hostess and both waiters we had (downstairs and upstairs) were all quite nice and accomodating. Our actual waiter seemed knowledgeable about the dishes and which ones were flavorful (alas! I couldn't hear everything he said and didn't order what he'd recommended)...

We found the bottle of wine my friend was looking for only to be told that it wasn't chilled yet so they'd serve it to us with dinner. The waiter, after going back to double check since my friend didn't really have/find anything to drink, managed to find a single bottle that was in fact chilled to my friend's happiness (she doesn't drink cocktails or beer).

Would we go back there? My friend and I decided probably not given the hassle of choosing the wine/dishes, the noise level and the food quality...

Jul 25, 2009
pokie in Manhattan

21 Club, Estiatorio Milos, Osteria del Circo, Quality Meats Infant Friendly?

thx for the advice! really appreciate it! thus far i guess it'll come down to osteria del circo or redeye grill... anyone else care to weigh in?

Jul 24, 2009
pokie in Manhattan

21 Club, Estiatorio Milos, Osteria del Circo, Quality Meats Infant Friendly?

oh great! thx! in the process of checking those out right now! ^_^

Update: okay so checked out RGR's recs and although they all seem delish foodie options, Redeye Grill seems to be the only one that's in her neighborhood. I know all the other restaurants aren't that far but since she just had a baby a month ago, I don't want to wear her out, especially since the weather forecast calls for possible thunderstorms next week...

I'll run the restaurants by her and see what she thinks! thanks again for the recs!

Jul 24, 2009
pokie in Manhattan

21 Club, Estiatorio Milos, Osteria del Circo, Quality Meats Infant Friendly?

Hi everyone! I apologize for yet another new thread but after reading every thread related to "baby/child-friendly" or some variation thereof for the 2 hours, I can't seem to find exactly what I'm looking for... My friend has a 1-month old infant and would like to take advantage of restaurant week. I'm actually not familiar with any of the restaurants participating...

She lives in NYC but this is her first baby and I have no kids (and I'm relatively new to the NYC dining scene) so we were wondering if any of the above-mentioned restaurants would be infant-friendly? If not, are there any participating restaurants you'd recommend? She lives in mid-town and I'm thinking staying close to her stomping grounds would be best...

Thanks in advance for your advice/recs! ^^

Jul 23, 2009
pokie in Manhattan

L'Artusi, Malatesta or Locande Verde?

Hmm... we'll be meeting on a Friday night so I'm thinking LV will probably be noisy by the time we get there. Other sites also stated that LV is awesome but noisy unless you get there early... but then again that holds true for so many places.

Agghhh! Decision, decisions, decisions... I suck at making decisions especially when it comes to food! T_T

Jul 18, 2009
pokie in Manhattan

L'Artusi, Malatesta or Locande Verde?

ok! thanks! I was leaning towards l'artusi based on the reviews, but based on your advice it seems like the place to go! thx again!

just in case, are there any other places that you'd suggest with a similar ambiance or vibe and that's not too expensive (doesn't necessarily have to be italian according to my friend)? just wanted to compare your advice with a list i've compiled based on other reviews here...

Jul 17, 2009
pokie in Manhattan

L'Artusi, Malatesta or Locande Verde?

Hi everyone! Former Boston Chowhounder has relocated to NY (BK baby!).

Anyway, I'm meeting with a friend whom I haven't seen in about 15 years and as I had no clue as to where we should go, she suggested these three restaurants. I did a search here and on other sites to get an idea and all three places seem great (the reviews here seemed mostly positive for all three). So, in your opinion, which would be the place to go for 2 ladies wanting to have dinner and engage in catch-up conversation in a pseudo-casual atmosphere (i.e., a comfortable place where we can just talk with each other and have fun and not have to worry about insane noise levels)? I'd prefer it if things weren't too expensive (e.g., ~$60/person)... I eyeballed the menus for all three and they all seem in the same range with Malatesta being the least expensive?

Jul 17, 2009
pokie in Manhattan

Entree Salads

thanks for the recs! i was actually thinking about Houston but couldn't remember how extensive their salad offerings were (haven't been there in over a year but i do recall enjoying their salads)... *sigh* i was hoping Tossed would be like another NYC chain, Chopped, but i guess i got excited too soon...

i'll let her choose btw Houston and Cheesecake since I've liked both places' salads in the past...

thanks again! \(^-^)/

Oct 16, 2007
pokie in Greater Boston Area

Entree Salads

I'm meeting a friend for dinner (7pm) this week, and I haven't seen her in over a year so we have plenty to catch up on. She's 7+ months pregnant and craving salads. I've searched and read all the salad-related posts on this board and I'm not really coming up with anything that would work for dinner (although I found plenty of salad options for lunch!). Based on past threads, it seems that the Vault and Tossed are my best bets for good salads and that are open during the dinner hours... Any other recs? .

I've had great salads at several restaurants but can't seem to come up with a sit-down restaurant that's not too noisy (i.e., decent ambiance, amenable to conversing w/o shouting) and that offers a variety of entree salads to choose from... The only place that I can think of that offers a large list of salads is The Cheesecake Factory but my experience with their salads is limited...


Oct 15, 2007
pokie in Greater Boston Area

The Candle Light Inn in Catonsville / Sidestreets

Went to The Crab Shanty 2 weeks ago and while the service was fine, the food no longer is. I used to love several dishes and my family and I would often go at least once whenever I came down to visit for the past 16 years but we decided the last time we went, it really was no longer worth it.

I ordered the blackened shrimp caesar salad (have ordered this many times and is one of my favorite dishes there) and to my surprise, the shrimp was no longer the large jumbo deveined shrimp but seemed like the tiny frozen kind. The salad was also drenched in oil (along with their caesar salad dressing) and overall, was just too salty. I ate a couple of bites but stopped eating it b/c it literally was that bad. My sister also commented that her crabcake was just okay. My father's salmon was swimming in butter. My mom ordered the steamed shrimp that she always orders and that was fine (not much you can do to mess up an order of steamed shrimp).

I'm so disappointed since it used to serve decent (not-the-best-I've-had-but-still-fine) seafood. It seems that others agree since on a Friday night, there was absolutely no one waiting in the waiting area (in years past, that area would be jam packed and the wait would usually be 30-60 minutes on a weekend night).

Wedding Caterer Recommendations

Has anyone ever used or been to weddings catered by any of the following: (1) Palate Pleasers, (2) Main Ingredient Cafe & Caterers, (3) Saucy Salamandar, or (4) A Cook's Cafe? If so, what kind of food did they serve/provide and what were your thoughts on the food and service?

My sister and her fiance live in NYC but their wedding will be in Annapolis. Since the site that she chose only allows vendors on an "approved list" we're all sorta clueless as to who might be good. Also since it's a little difficult to keep traveling from Boston to MD (me) and NYC to MD (my sister and her fiance), I thought I could help out by trying to narrow her choices down before we start scheduling appointments...

I apologize in advance for the pseudo-chowhoundish topic, and thanks in advance for your input!

Question Two: Sushi

I've only ordered takeout from Zen and I wasn't impressed - designer rolls drenched in sauce *yuck* and another time, I just ordered simple basic spicy tuna roll and the fish was not fresh (i.e., it smelled). Given my takeout experiences, I probably won't ever feel compelled to dine there.

I like Ma Soba better but it is inconsistent. Sometimes their sushi is fresh, and sometimes not. You'll have better luck with their rolls and I do like their designer roll offerings although there have been times when the rolls were not made well and fell apart as soon as you picked up a piece.

I wouldn't say Fuji is better than Oishii but that in terms of freshness, they're equal. Oishii is better at creativity while Fuji is better when it comes to traditional fare/experience that you'd find in Japan.

christmas dinner

Sorry for the late reply! If you plug in 1) "Boston" for the region, 2) "all boston restaurants" for the search criteria, and 3) 12/25/2006 plus the time you want and the size of the party, you should get at least a few results. I've been doing this repeatedly since yesterday (trying to research as to what my parents/friends would like *SIGH*) and I'm still coming up with about 11-13 options.

My party consists of 6 people so my options are more limited but I just did a random search for a party of 2 and ended up getting 15 restaurants with reservations available for a party of 2 on Christmas ~ 6-7 pm. Hope this helps and good luck with your search!

Other places open for Christmas not listed on bostonchefs:

Beacon Hill Bistro 617.723.7575
breakfast 7:30-12 pm/dinner 1-9 pm

Legal Seafoods, Prudential (other locations open - check website)
dinner 12-10pm

Oak Room, Fairmont Copley Hotel 617.267.5300
3-course Brunch @ $58/person - starts at 11 am
Afternoon Dessert Buffet @ $20/person - 12-5pm
Dinner (forgot to jot down info...)

Oceana, Long Wharf Marriott
Breakfast Buffet 7-10:30 pm
Dinner (forgot to jot down info...)

Turner Fisheries, Westin Copley Place 617.424.7425
Buffet @ $59/person - 10:30 am to 9 pm

Fugakyu, Brookline 617.734.1268
11:30 am - 1:30 am

And as others have pointed out, there's always Chinatown... This is OT but does anyone have any ideas as to activities on Christmas day?

Dec 22, 2006
pokie in Greater Boston Area

christmas dinner

I'm curious about this too since my family is unexpectedly coming to Boston. If you do a search on, it'll show you a list of restaurants open on Christmas day at the time you want. I also read somewhere that Thursday's Boston Globe will have a listing of restaurants open Christmas Eve and Christmas...

Dec 21, 2006
pokie in Greater Boston Area

Best North End Italian

I too recommend Terramia... consistently great service and food. I know many recommend Mamma Maria but when I took my family and friends to the restaurant, we had a horrible experience there to the point where we'll never go back. Usually, I'm willing to give a restaurant a second try but the dining experience was so appalling and there are so many great restaurants in that area that it didn't seem worth trying again.

Nov 08, 2006
pokie in Greater Boston Area

In search of good sushi

Michi Kusa in Framingham has really fresh sushi plus sapporo on tap (beats all the places I've tried in Boston excluding Oishii (Chestnut Hill location))... Although there are plenty of places that serve decent to great designer rolls, trying to find a place that serves edible nigiri sushi in Boston is depressing (imho)...

Nov 08, 2006
pokie in Greater Boston Area

Flavor Combinations

granny smith apples & sharp cheddar
evoo & balsamic vinegar
soy sauce & vinegar
apple vinegar & boardwalk fries
tabasco & eggs
tuna & kimchee
cucumber & gochujjang (spicy red bean paste)
lemon & garlic...

... too many so I'll stop here for the moment! :)

Sep 26, 2006
pokie in Home Cooking

Toby's Dinner Theater

Thanks for the feedback, Wayne. My sister and I finally decided to just make reservations at Jordan's Steakhouse. Anyone know how the seafood is at Jordan's? One member in our party doesn't eat red meat and I would like to ensure that everyone will enjoy their meal given the occasion.

Toby's Dinner Theater

I'm not sure if this is an appropriate question to throw at you guys, and if it isn't, please forgive... Has anyone been to Toby's Dinner Theater? Any comments on what the dining experience is like? I've been wracking my brain as to what to do for my parent's anniversary and my sister's birthday which are back-to-back, and since we always go out for an upscale dinner for special occasions, I was thinking maybe we could do something a little different...

Assistance Please

I went to Citronelle with my family many years ago but still remember the enjoyable meal and excellent service. This might not help you since my experience was so long ago but if it reassures you any, my experience was memorable enough that I have been wanting to go back there again ever since (just haven't had a chance since I no longer live around the area).

Question Two: Sushi

I heartily second Jeanki's recommendation for Fuji Restaurant in Ellicott City. Although I live in Boston, I grew up in MD and I go everytime I'm down there for a visit. My parents also go there at least once a week; we've been consistently going there for years, ever since it opened.

Compared to the Boston sushi places I've been to: Fugakyu, Ginza (Chinatown and Brookline locations), Oishii (Chestnut Hill location), Zen Japanese Grill, Ma Soba, and other smaller locations), Fuji stands head and shoulders above them all in terms of quality. You won't find much by way of trendy designer rolls but if you're looking for traditional absolutely fresh nigiri and sashimi, you won't be disappointed. In fact, my family has been so spoiled by the consistent freshness and quality that I can honestly say that I'm pretty disappointed with the sushi in Boston (then again, I have yet to try Douzo and Uni). Don't get me wrong, I love the udon at Fugakyu, the rolls at the Chinatown Ginza, and the omakase at Chestnut Hill Oishii but IMHO, Fuji outranks them when it comes to traditional fare.

The Fuji sushi chef is Japanese and his wife is Korean (although she lived in Japan after going there for school). Both are just great hardworking people and are extremely dedicated to providing quality food. I know for a fact that they head out to the Baltimore fish markets every single day without fail in the early early am for their fish.

Their nabeyake udon is also very good compared to other restaurants as is their seaweed salad. My sister once had a craving for their seaweed salad so the owner prepared a large tub of it for my sister to take back with her to NYC and she ate the whole darn thing! (The tub was one of those yellow large plastic tubs for tofu). I also love the salad dressing the owner makes but she won't give me or my mom her recipe... *boo*

Can you tell I love this restaurant? I wish I could just transplant it to Boston... *sigh*