I wanted to hold off on writing my Monday Munchie column this week, as I had a "special" dinner planned this evening.
A couple of weeks ago I was surprised with an email from Travelzoo. Apparently a couple of people had signed up for their email from my forward and they wanted to reward me. I got a link to select $100 in dining certificates from Restaurant.com. Pretty cool.
Yes, there are some restrictions. Yes, you have to spend a minimum of $35 to use your $25 offer, but all-in-all, not a bad deal. Plus, I can appreciate four local restaurants this way.
The first on my list I used tonight, when I went with my friend Larissa to Libiamo. I'd been here a couple of times before (including on my first date with a previous boyfriend), but never as an aspiring food critic (also, hard to chow down on garlicky Italian when you're on a first date -- I think I had a salad then, and a LOT of wine.)
We started off with a carafe of Cecchi Sangiovese Bonizio, a nice robust Tuscan wine. We tried to get an appetizer, but unfortunately they were out of fresh mozzarella (at an Italian restaurant? Who would've thought?), so we could not get the Caprese Bruschetta. We settled for the salads that would accompany our entrees.
I probably will have halitosis from my salad for the next 10 days, but it was mighty tasty. Lars and I both opted for the roasted garlic dressing, which was pretty much thick, pureed garlic. It only took a little to add a lot of flavor to the mixed greens and cucumber on our plate. The salad course was partnered with a bread basket of tasty fresh Italian bread with a sweet basil butter spread.
Our server did a great job of timing when he brought out our main course. Lars enjoyed her portabella mushroom ravioli and my Pesto Palermo was buono. Fusili Lunghi tossed in basil pesto with artichoke hearts, sundried tomato. Deeee-lish--eee---oh---so.
Plus I have plenty for lunch tomorrow.
Because we were there in the name of culinary research (and since it was from Travelzoo, felt like we should eat as if we were traveling), we opted for dessert. Unfortunately they only had one item (and I was so looking forward to a tiramisu or something typical). Fortunately, it was a divine Turtle Cheesecake.
Overall, the experience was quite good. It was a bit worrisome that the dining area was empty, but the bar definitely had some regulars in it, so hopefully this tasty gem can make it through the crappy economy. We also passed by a meeting going on in one of their banquet rooms on the way out the door, so hopefully that's helping them too.
We did splurge a bit with the wine and dessert, but you could definitely reasonably feed two people or a group here on a moderate budget. Also, I will have enough leftover pasta to last me at least one or two more meals!
The atmosphere here is lovely as well, and conducive to catching up with friends. Lars and I sat there for a long time after we'd paid the bill, finishing our wine and mulling life. We discussed naming one's blog and the first time we drank, amongst other topics. Do you think I can write that off on my taxes?