Antonio Review

Friday, February 15, 2008

This was in February's issue of Eloquence Magazine.

Dan


Antonio of the restaurant "Antonio" should convert his upscale Italian restaurant to a school for hospitality. Each time that I've had sojourned there, the pleasure has truly been all mine.

The service is impeccible and knowledgable, the wine list pleasing, and the menu vast. Each time, I tried to stump the server with an obviously ridiculous question like, "'What kind of toppings are on the porcini pizza?' or 'Which wine would pair well with the lamb?'" a prompt reply followed. And if the waitstaff didn't know the answer, the owner, Antonio, came over personally to attend the table. I was overwhelmed when the owner, who I've heard plays piano at the restaurant if requested, deboned and plated an entire salt crusted sea bass at the table. This restaurant makes you feel like a VIP. And the food doesn't let the service down.

Chef Lucca Marchesi offers sophisticated Italian fare that has no hint of pretension. I would recommend the grilled vegetables served with scarmoza cheese as an appetizer. The mushrooms, sweet peppers, and eggplant are grilled and lightly seasoned. They pair nicely with the slightly smokey cheese.

I was also impressed with the fresh porcini mushroom pizza. The buttery mushrooms were slightly garlicky with hints of herbs and they accented the shaved parmesan, basil, and mozzerella cheese pizza.

I found the salads to be unique in it's attempts, but the orzo salad with mozzerella and basil was a bit too hearty and chewy for my taste. And I found the broccoli and asparagus salad to be lacking in asparagus. However, I would recommend the "Mondello" salad with fresh orange and walnuts.

And we couldn't leave out the pasta or the "Whole Sea Salt Encrusted Sea Bass." You can taste the white wine in the "Linguine with Clams" and the dish balanced the garlic, pepper, and butter flavors without overwhelming the palatte with too much of each element.

The sea bass was a one kilogram beast that could have easily fed 4 people. The meat came out flavorful and moist-not at all salty as one might suspect. The sea bass was a restaurant experience that left everyone at the table feeling enthralled.

I did have one problem with the restaurant: the cigarette smoke easily wafts over to the non-smoking area. I don't think this is such a problem in the warmer seasons, because they have a beautiful patio, but I found this flaw disappointing for such a sublime environment.

All in all, "Antonio" does what a restaurant should do- it makes you feel special. It is perfect for a date or for impressing out of town guests.

Food: ****
Service: ****
Atmosphere: ***
Value: *

Entrees range from W18-120,000
3443-4333

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