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25 miles to Italy

Neither one of us are technical culinary experts but we are food experts in the sense that we eat every day and we know what we like or dislike.

Premise:

The idea behind this blog was to compare and contrast mine and Stacie’s differing opinions on the food we eat.  For as many times as we both like a plate there are as many times as we disagree. Neither one of us are technical culinary experts but we are food experts in the sense that we eat every day and we know what we like or dislike.  This is an attempt to describe that experience. 

Stacie:

Damon took me to Altobeli’s Restaurant, which was described on-line as a place you could hang your hat. That sounded nice to me. I went to their website, which had a warm feel. Then I explored their photo gallery. There were repetitive  pictures of someone singing & a few pictures with people in costumes. I began to imagine myself crammed into a small, dank, noisy dining room. I searched for an image that would give me some better insight for the atmosphere, but there weren't any, so I just had to hope that my husband had made a good choice, especially since it was 40 minutes away! Well guess what.....

He did! The room to the right was filled with people dressed in smiles as they swayed to the gentle swooning of their vocalist. We were seated in a quiet, relaxing dining room that we were lucky enough to get by ourselves. I was comfortable enough to stay for hours! Laughter resonated from the rear dining room as I could see guests sipping on reds, maybe Chianti. I tried one of the Chiantis, but I most enjoyed the smoothness of the Italian Pinot Noir, although it would have been slightly more pleasurable if drank from a red wine glass....but I'm not a wine snob (or am I). Our very personable server, Behrooz, was top notch! He was fast, courteous, and knowledgeable about the dishes. The other staff also worked to keep us happy by bringing our dishes & clearing the table. The experience was very pleasing! Now what about the food?

First, we were served garlic rolls which I would have preferred to be softer; although I still was glad they served bread. Next we had a lobster ravioli ap. It was like fancy comfort food. It was creamy and cheesy with just enough seafood taste to satisfy my palette. Then salads came out. The dressing in my house salad was a bit tart and my lettuce was bitter from the center pieces of the iceberg, which while some love bitter (aka Damon), I was not a huge fan. Damon's fried goat cheese salad, on the other hand, was more to my liking. It seemed to have a
good balance between bitter & sweet. Although I'm not a huge fan of goat
cheese (except feta), I LOVED the crispiness the cheese coating brought to the
dish. My main course, pasta levronaze, was delightful. I can best describe it
as a high-end variation to a meatless spaghetti sauce. I appreciate the fact
fresh tomatoes were used. The olives & capers were a nice touch. In fact, I
could have used a few extra as I enjoyed those bites the most. My husband's
Chicken Cristo, other than needing a dash more salt, was a rich creamy treat.
The chicken was so tender I could cut it with my fork. I was thrilled that
unlike many other Italian restaurants, none of our dishes were runny or greasy
& the pasta was cooked to perfection. I am thankful we spent our hard
earned dollars on well prepared Italian food at a place that really put in the
effort to make us feel welcome. I bet there are a lot of people that proudly
hang their hats at Altobeli’s Restaurant!

Damon:

I hardly did any research but I was definitely in the mood
for some good Italian food.  I pulled out
the trusty Foodspotting app on my phone and Altobeli’s popped up.  Away we went….

On arrival I began to have doubts because I try not to make
a habit of eating at restaurants that reside in Kroger shopping centers but the
music being piped outside sounded nice and we had already driven 25 miles.  Inside we were greeted with an enthusiastic crowd in the right dining room singing along with the live piano music.  Stacie and I asked to be seated in the quiet dining area so we could continue to have our conversation.  The music was nice and the atmosphere was nicer.  It looked and felt like an established restaurant that had been there for many years.  Upon being seated we were promptly greeted by our waiter.  He was knowledgeable about the dishes and personable enough to chat with us for a few minutes.  I felt comfortable in this place and as I perused the menu I carefully looked for that dish that would compliment my night.

Out first was the bread.  Small knots that had been sitting under the heat lamps too long and had begun to dry up.  They swam in the butter pool at the bottom of the bowl.  I ate 1.  I was hoping that this was not an indicator of things to come.  To compliment the bad bread, waiters used a nearby table to dump used food into togo boxes.  We weren’t off to a good start….

The appetizer we ordered was lobster ravioli.  They looked good upon arrival and we dived right in.  Each ravioli was stuffed with creamy lobster meat that tasted more like tuna salad but the melted cheese on top was pretty good.

The salads were next and mine was a goat cheese balsamic and
vinegar salad with fresh spinach.  Pretty typical but I really enjoyed the dollops of crusted goat cheese on top of the tomato slices.  Four of them to be exact.  Stacie ordered the house salad.  She was not to pleased with the bitter lettuce centers but I crunched on a few as we waited.

The entrees arrived next and both looked pretty good.  I ordered the Di Pollo Cristo.  The dish consisted of breaded chicken on a bed of fettuccini noodles. The sauce was a creamy tomato.  It tasted great and I could tell that the chef had put some effort into this recipe. Many flavor layers that seemed to bring the dish together.  I will mention that each component on its own didn’t seem to work.  But as a finished product I enjoyed it.   Stacie ordered a vegetarian pasta dish with chicken on it. It tasted good as well…..  Overall the experience was not overwhelming but I would recommend it to people looking for a good Italian dinner.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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