Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birthday Dinner at Spazio

Thanks to this guy (aka my uncle and our wedding officiant), Andrew and I got to try a new restaurant that's pretty much in our backyard - Spazio in Qunicy:

If you look at the picture above, you'll note one of Spazio's key features - the hummus and olive oil that comes served with their generous bread basket featuring breadsticks, raisin bread and some sort of ciabatta type bread. We kept joking that we needed to keep the basket away from my cousin Andrew (male teen = hungry boy), but I think I ended up eating more bread than he did! In fact, our table of seven went through two baskets and my grandmother didn't eat any of it.

Rich is actually a vegetarian and he was hoping that Spazio's current menu would include an eggplant parm dish that he had enjoyed in the past. Alas, we were told it wasn't currently available so as a consolation, we ordered the Neopolitan of Fried Eggplant, Zucchini, Spinach and Fresh Mozzarella appetizer.  It looked fairly impressive but in terms of taste and flavor, it tasted mostly like the marinara sauce.

The calamari appetizer, on the hand, was much better. It was nice and light and most importantly, not greasy with a great lemon aioli on the side:

I have to point out as a side note, it was around this point that I was served my drink of diet Coke, which tasted off to me. I thought it was because the restaurant's syrup machine was running out, so I notified our server, and ten minutes later, I received a fresh glass of soda. Which tasted exactly the same. At that point, I just gave up on expecting what I was used to and just drank it. I'm not sure what was causing this problem, but it kind of reminded me of similar situations at past restaurants where I was told that they didn't carry the "Coke" brand but instead it was a locally brewed soda. Which you think would taste better but give me some artificial sugar any time of the day. Also, it kind of bothered me that the server left my old soda on the table the entire time I was waiting for a replacement. I know that sounds fussy, but on a crowded table, extra space was needed and I kept automatically reaching for my drink and recoiling once I remember that I didn't like its flavor. Ok, back to the food.

I love this shot of my grandma. She ordered the pork chop special and this little lady easily had the biggest dish on the table. Lucky for my cousin Andrew, he was able to take her leftovers (which realistically was most of the chop):

I had the Linguine alla Putanesca with Anchovie, Olives, Capers, Chili Pepper and Tomato - I appreciated the homemade pasta which was perfectly al dente, but found the olives to be a little too salty and I was disconcerted by a big chunk of anchovie I bit into. I know the description includes anchovie but I was expecting more of the flavor of anchovie rather actual chunk of it. To be honest, I brought most of this home, and almost a week later, it's still sitting untouched in our fridge (waiting to be thrown out tomorrow on trash day):

What I should've gotten was the Chicken Marsalla (yes, that's the way the restaurant spells it) dish with garlic mashed potatoes and acorn squash. Both of my cousins ordered it and cleaned their plates. While I didn't snag a piece of the chicken, I did try the acorn squash (which came sprinkled with cinnamon) and it was delicious:

Finally, dessert time which is obviously my favorite. The birthday boy split his dessert (and the calories) with my cousin Andrea. I'm sorry the picture is miserable, but picture some sort of protiferole dish filled with a thick chocolate mousse and topped with whipped cream. Although I'm not a chocolate dessert person, I have to admit the forkful I tried was pretty nice:

My cousin Andrew was excited for the vanilla bean custard (I can't remember the exact name) which was really a flan. I've never been the biggest fan of flan or flan-like desserts and this to me tasted pretty simple - not really indulgent enough for me to order in a restaurant but Andrew scraped his plate clean:

I went with the lemon pudding cake with summer fruit and whipped cream. I loved this dessert, it was totally up my alley. It was moist with a strong lemon flavor and didn't leave me feeling heavy afterwards:

Overall, I think the food was pretty decent but slightly overpriced considering the inconsistencies in the food, meaning that I had such highs and lows with portions of the meal. I would still give it another shot for a meal, but would skip the diet soda, load up on bread yet again, and stick with the chicken marsalla as my main entree. More importantly, the birthday guest of honor seemed to enjoy his meal (which actually ended up bruchetta, which looked more impressive than you would think) and it was fun a family meal all around. I think Andrew was happy that he was seated at the far end of the table from me since that took him out of a picture range for once!

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