Sorry for the delay on my post...however, I had a hectic week.
So, we all know who, what, etc. -- I went on opening night, which was this past Tuesday. I got there early to have a drink at the bar. First things first...when you first, walk in...be very careful! The tile they have on the floor is very slippery. On a wet/rainy night...this is an accident waiting to happen. That aside, the space gives a completely different feel, vibe and ambiance from Baci. The space is "white" and bright, and very open. You enter in the middle, with the bar on your left, and the dining room on your right. Walls have been taken down, and while open, there is a "separate" area for the dining room. Drinks were OK. The bartenders were young, not a great deal of experience, but they were adequate and friendly. They seem to be focusing on one or two "brands" in different categories. For example, no Jack Daniels, but they recommend Bulleit. Similar with tequila.
On to the table...the place was not crowded at 730pm. It was Tuesday! LOL. The waiter had some excellent descriptions of the dishes, but I get the impression they are more "rehearsed" than actually knowing the dishes, but that's OK. We started with a salad -- radicchio and mushroom, some ricotta cheese. Just as an FYI -- for the most part, the titles of the dishes are in Italian, and the descriptions are more a series of one word ingredients. So, if you don't understand a word or two, then you may want to ask. Our salad was titled "Fungi Crespelle" -- but the menu had no description or even a reference to a "crepe" like aspect, nor did the waiter say anything. No problem. Maybe it's on me, doesn't matter, all good. So, the salad was very good -- four little mounds of radicchio, some bits of ricotta, a slight drizzle of some balsamic -- very flavorful. These surrounded a soft, long, rectangular "crepe" filled with a soft and tasty mushroom concoction. I have no idea how it's made, but it was good -- a pleasant surprise and a learning lesson (Crespelle means crepe! LOL). While the waiter gave a very detailed, very thorough explanation of this dish -- he never mentioned or even referenced the crepe. Again, no big deal at all.
For the pasta we were torn between the farfalle and the gnudi -- which I knew meant "naked" -- so I figured the latter would be an open or deconstructed pasta, perhaps in the gnocchi family. We went with the former -- bow-tie pasta, served al dente, with small, very taste meatballs, some kale, and all mixed together with some parmigiano reggiano cheese -- very well done, excellent! I liked this dish -- a lot of flavor, taste, and, very well executed.
For the entree -- check out the menu online -- this section is entitled "For The Table" and all of the dishes are designed to be shared. It's not family style, but they are designed to be shared, order a couple (if you are more than 2 people, didn't have an appetizer and salad, etc.), and enjoy. Just as an FYI -- there is a dry-aged porterhouse and a dry-aged tomahawk ribeye on the menu, for $135 and $175 respectively. I point this out only in the context of the original discussion we had about, originally, this place was initially thought of being "less casual" than Viaggio, and serving "Italian street fare" and the like. Whenever I see and hear this -- I think about American Cut (Bar and Grill) in Englewood Cliffs. I felt that placed struggled with it's "identity" and who and what it was trying to be, and ultimately failed, in part, because of that. Topic for another time.
Anyway, we went with the scallops, wrapped in prosciutto. It was served with a quinoa and various herbs, served what was called "Sicilian style" -- whatever it was -- it was excellent! I've always felt that wrapping, cooking, etc., prosciutto with something can bring out a lot of the salt flavor and taste, and while this dish definitely had "salt" in the flavor profile -- it was very good! The scallops were firm, plum, and executed perfectly (for my liking). The prosciutto added that "meat" flavor and a salt taste, and the herbs and quinoa were a nice counter and fit very well -- lots of flavors, taste, etc. -- and I liked it a lot.
It was obviously "opening night" -- so they are getting going, new, finding their routines, and so on. No hiccups or problems -- except that tile floor. I saw two people slip, one man, one woman, and this can be a major issue (especially when the slightest bit wet). Very nice, open, inviting space. Tables not too close together, able to have a nice conversation, not loud, and a very nice experience. I would have liked my waiter to have more "real world" descriptions and handle on the dishes, rather than the rehearsed, canned, description that might have been taught to him. Get into a groove, get going, do your thing...and this place should do very well! I don't know the economics behind the place, but I know the food is very good, the space is very nice, and the vibe is good. If everything behind the food works -- this place should do very well. I feel there is a shortage of very good "Italian" restaurants (Dimora and Savini being two of the best in Bergen County in my opinion) and while this isn't "traditional" Italian -- and it's not supposed to be -- it's very good!