So, I was a little bummed right off the bat when I phoned Cesare's for a rezzie and the voice on the other end of the line thanked me for calling "Caesar's". Am I the only one who watched Showtime's "The Borgias"? It's "CHAYZ-uh-ray" for gawd's sake. Our server was dreamily handsome, olive-skinned, Italian-accented and attentive, however, so this minor transgression was quickly forgotten once we were seated.
I thought the interior was a tad spartan for a $30-per-entree kinda place, but I did appreciate the softly piped-in "Rat Pack" era tunes from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others of their ilk, so I guess I'm officially "old" (albeit one of the youngest diners in the place at 6:00 PM on a Saturday). We got our party started with a chilled bottle of Prosecco.
Warm, crusty Italian bread was deposited while we perused the menu. It was quite good, as was its herbaceous and garlic-riffic dipping oil (which would probably put a damper on any post-dining seduction plans, so first-daters in particular should bear this in mind). I think it'll be Monday before the fumes stop emanating from my pores.
Lobster bisque was decadently rich and heavily laden with sweet crustacean chunks, sherry and cream. This was a damned fine soup.
UD ordered the Carpaccio, which was fresh-tasting and nicely presented.
Entree time! I wanted to snort some serious pasta on the heartbreaking eve of my Atkin's diet re-induction, but had a difficult time making a decision (I can be a woman like that). I wanted noodles. I wanted cheese. I wanted prosciutto. I wanted peas. I wanted mushrooms. I wanted pink sauce. My bitchy demands were met without so much as the batting of an eye. Cesare's will mix and match pasta ingredients to your specifications. As it happened, there was a sacchettini special du jour available which consisted of little cheese-filled pasta purses swimming in a creamy-yet-tangy pink vodka sauce with all of the accoutrements on my wish-list. Yesssss.
My beloved selected a veal chop special which was slathered in a mushroom-laden cognac sauce. Served with some lovely, tender-on-the-inside/caramelized-on-the-outside potato chunks and flanked by a completely forgettable mound of previously frozen bag-o-veggies, this may have been the low point of the evening. Requested to be cooked medium rare, there was some serious "gray" going on in this steak. An individual who seemed to be "in charge" stopped by to inquire about our meal satisfaction, at which point the temp discrepancy was brought to his attention. The reply was that "these chops are thin so it's hard to really do 'medium rare'". Ummm, might be worth mentioning at the time this dish is ordered. The convo eventually culminated in a decidedly reluctant offer to replace the veal chop, but we passed. The meat that was closer to the bone proved to be pinker and less dry, so it wasn't disastrous by any means.
At the end of the day, I must say that while most of what we tried was well above average, we will likely never return. At an average cost of $30 per entrée, the cuisine and ambiance should've been amazing...but both fell a tad short of that adjective. Cesare's, while good, is no Armani's and shouldn't carry the same weighty price tag.
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.