I almost didn't post my experience at Novecento because I wasn't aware that it was a chain when we decided to dine there and I don't normally either frequent or blog about chains. But but now that I know...well, it explains a lot. You might as well learn from my mistake. While it's an attractive venue with a slick interior and hip-looking crowd, it reminded me a little of going on a date with the best looking guy in school and having so little chemistry with him that you felt like you were kissing your brother at the end of the evening. All flash and (in my opinion) not much substance.
Novecento bills itself as an Argentine Bistro. Trouble is, I've been to Argentina (and, in fact, enjoyed some of the best meals of my life in that country) so I can attest to the fact that the offerings here are far from authentic. To add insult to injury, the food was only okay for the most part. I thought the highlight of my meal was the empanadas (one with a relatively traditional picadillo filling and another stuffed with corn, cream and bacon). They were large and tasty with crispy, flaky crusts.
I'm not a raw fish kinda girl (yeah, I know...it "cooks" in the lime juice...whatever) so I passed on the ceviche, but it did receive high marks from the others at the table.
Fully embracing my newfound love of pasta, I ordered one the specials...a seafood linguine with red sauce. Note(s) to self: "Specials" are not always as "special" as they're cracked up to be. And, yes...I should've learned that by now. Also, most pasta dishes are going to leave me cold if they are not fresh and created in better-than-average, bona fide Italian restaurants. Check and check.
What tasted like supermarket Barilla slathered in jarred marinara sauce and topped with a somewhat fishy-tasting and slightly overcooked assortment of seafood appeared. It wasn't the worst thing anyone's ever put in front of me, but I expected more for the price point and could only eat three or four bites of it. To be fair, the manager offered to replace the dish but I declined. Segue: I once knew a restaurateur who issued a strong warning that if I ever didn't like a dish served to me in a restaurant (or felt that it wasn't cooked properly), I should never send it back to the kitchen to be "fixed" OR accept a replacement....the unspoken message being that bad things could happen to one's food which one might never be aware of. Not to imply that this would've been an issue at Novecento, but the suggestion has been inextricably lodged in my brain for over 25 years now. Sorry, I digress.
Our dining partner, Steve, didn't fare much better with his Pollo Al Curry, which consisted of tasteless chicken breast chunks covered in a relatively bland coconut curry sauce and served with mixed peppers, mango chutney and white rice. Much of his entree also remained on the plate at the end of the meal.
Debski and the hub-unit both went with the 9 oz. skirt steak with choice of potato, which they both enjoyed (although Deb's crispy fries were better received than Jimbo's bland mashed offering).
Nothing was horrible, but we found the cuisine to be pedestrian, uninspiring and grasping at mediocrity for the most part. With so many amazing choices available in SW Florida, I have to wonder why anyone would expend their precious daily caloric alottment here. Novecento, you're very pretty but I'm just not that into you.