Sunday, May 22, 2011

Restaurant: Cafe Firenze

After becoming a fan of Fabio on Top Chef and learning that one of his restaurants was relatively close to home, this place was added onto our "to try" place for quite some time.

For Mother's Day, mom had requested being taken out to lunch, so it seemed as good time as any to check it out.

Cuisine: Italian
Price: Moderate ($11-$30/person)
Ambiance: Casual/Dressy Casual

Aside from an absolutely gorgeous bar that you see as you walk in, the ambiance is very much what Americans would consider as "traditional" old-school Italian, with lots of dark woods and dark leather on the booths. The booths were a bit too deep for our preference - even with the pillows on them to help push you closer to the table. Noise level was good, the high ceilings helped keep it quiet, though I was there for a late Sunday lunch, so I can't speak to how loud it'd get during truly busy times.

They introduced an "Under 10" lunch menu that had a nice variety of lunch choices for under $10, but that (and much of the menu at large) was very much American-Italian. If your looking for food like Fabio cooked on Top Chef, you might be disappointed.

Our food was on the unexceptional side: my dad's soup had to be sent back for not being warm enough, the supposedly lemon-flavored chicken picatta didn't have much flavor to it (though it was moist), my sister found her wheat spaghetti (which was supposed to be a "light" lunch) to be heavy and my chicken Parmesan was nothing to write home about (if a bit dry). My mom and sister split what was supposed to be a limoncello cheesecake, but they said you really couldn't taste the limoncello and my flourless chocolate cake was good and rich - but reminded me of a fudge brownie recipe that I make in terms of taste and texture. In other words, everything was just good, not great.

Service was at a level to be expected for a restaurant of the price range: attentive and unobtrusive.

We did get to see Fabio walking around in a Jaws t-shirt and jeans before starting his day, which was a nice plus. That said, at $20/head I'd expected something a little more interesting than what we got.

Okay, but I wouldn't go out of my way to go there again.

My grade: B-

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