Friday, May 27

bartalino's (near) the hill

Since I was out of town this mother's day, I decided to use a Groupon to treat my mom to dinner at Bartalino's Osteria hear Hampton and 44.  We've been there before, but both agreed it was repeat worthy.

Before we headed into the main dining room, we wandered over to the bar to grab a glass a wine (as is customary when dining with my mother).  Having just returned two days prior from a trip to the California Wine Country, I had to go for the good stuff - the house red.   Surprisingly, Bartalino's namesake wine was nice (and a bargain). Waaahoooo.

Making our way to the dining room, I never felt like I was in a hotel restaurant.  Elegant and simple.

Based on the waiter's recommendation, I went with the Bartalino's Special Salad with house dressing.  Once he said artichokes and bacon, I had heard enough.  It turned out to be just the type of salad I love: more toppings, less lettuce.  It was packed with salami, bacon, artichokes, green onions and pepporcinis - so much of the good stuff that I even left a small pile of salami (Gasp!).  A very light, creamy Italian tied it all together. Yum, yum, yum.

For my entree, I went with the Filetto di Sogliola alla Ragni (aka fillet of sole topped with crab and parmesan). It was an okay experience - a bit on the salty side, but a nice combination of flavors otherwise.  On the downside, the fish seemed a bit slimy for me (the wannabe foodie in me thought maybe it could have been cooked a bit longer) and I caught a tiny piece of shell in the crab mixture.

On to the appetizer.  Wait, back-up. What?  Yep, somehow our appetizer took so long in preparation that it took as long as our entrees to come up.  I'm not sure if it's foodie etiquette or not, but I hate that.  Oh it will actually be a nice addition to your dinner said the waiter.  No. I want my appetizer first. If I make it through the salad without it, take it off my bill. But instead, I smile nicely and let him set it in-between our dinner plates. 

Regardless of the timing hoopla, the bruschetta was delicious.  Six hand-prepared individual pieces of "grilled crisp on the outside, but still soft and warm on the inside" bread topped with three different combinations:  fresh pesto with large hunks of pinenuts, a bit too salty  olive tapenade and fresh tomato with shaved parmesean.  Loved the idea of it, just wish I hadn't of been so full (ahem, waiter).

bottom line: love the feel of this place and the nice deviation from typical St. Louis Italian. though spotty service this time, definitely a regular place for me.

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