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
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.