06 November 2008
Due to most of Richmond's roads being closed, I had to walk the last half mile to this place, over the bridge and in both shirtsleeves and the cold, and so it was going to have to be good from the start if it was going to improve my mood. Fortunately it was. That I have given each category the same score is a real compliment – it is not often that restaurants get the balance right, particularly at the upper end of the rating scale, between all the important elements of dining out, and frequently good food is spoiled by shoddy service or vice versa.
This restaurant's website describes itself as “a simple family-style Italian restaurant with a modern twist”, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Don't mistake simple for uninteresting; the menu was full of dishes I wanted to eat. The dishes (and there were five of us so I saw lots) were indeed simple, in that they didn't involve an excess of ingredients or complicated cooking techniques, and that is good. Added to decent quality ingredients and careful, sympathetic cooking this made for a lot of enjoyable food, and my fussy dining companions didn't have a moan between them (luckily for me they are fussy only about what they eat, not who they eat it with).
Modernity showed itself in the presentation of some of the dishes, a step up from rustic, but not overly so I am pleased to say. I would also say it was modern for such a restaurant to make some great cocktails – my Manhattan aperitif was excellent. As was my second. (George Carlin said “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor”, and for me that can also be applied to Manhattans, so I reluctantly stopped there.) The bar is relatively small, but a nice place to sit at while pondering the interesting and OK-priced wine list. Finally on the subject of modern, we asked the sommelier to recommend something and he suggested an American wine made with an Italian grape variety, and it was very good indeed.
Tables are well-spaced, and the buzzy yet cosy atmosphere, combined with the good food and friendly, attentive service, will hopefully mean that this restaurant has a very successful recession. A Cena translates as “come to supper”, and you should.