A group of six of us ladies went to Galileo for dinner last Tuesday. Having heard not-so-many nice things about the service at Roberto Donna's long-standing Mecca for regional Italian, I had never worked up the nerve to blow more than $100 per person on a meal there. So when the restaurant offered a very tempting offer through its web site (half off all food and wine sun-tues evenings in August) I jumped at the chance. Now or never, right?

The verdict?

While I'm glad I went and had the experience, I am VERY glad I did not pay full freight for what was a fairly mediocre meal with annoying service. As for the food, it was all reasonably fresh and well executed--an appetizer of bacon-wrapped scallops, while not terribly original, was meaty, seared crusty on the outside, and darn tasty. The tuna carpaccio was fresh-tasting, but it lacked spunk—just limp slices of tuna on some sort of innocuous vegetable purée.

As for main courses, the server recommended the bronzino, which turned out to be a nice filet of meaty fish which was unfortunately overwhelmed by an aggressive orangey glazing and a tasteless “pea sauce.” A veal chop was, again, well-executed and nicely cut, but just ho-hum, though its accompanying morel sauce was pleasingly heavy on the fungi. The veggie-friendly asparagus and mascarpone agnolotti (similar to ravioli) with parmesan cheese and basil olive oil, while stunningly rich, was generally agreed to be among the very best dishes, even by the table's dedicated carnivores. For the finale, the trio of gelatos—pistachio, mascarpone, and banana—were lovely and served as a refreshing jolt to our somewhat underwhlemed palates.

The service was, frankly, a bit strange. The bartender was a phantom—he kept disappearing and often seemed to be doing so to go flirt with the hostess. When we finally caught his eye we had waited at the bar an extra 5 or 10 minutes after our table was ready. I would have chalked it up to an accident, but he pulled the same disappearing act after we returned to the bar for a post-meal capucchino. Our waiter was prompt, but a bit pushy—when we tried to order two of a particular appetizer, he said, “No. You will order two [of another appetizer].” Though he clearly deemed one item to be better than the other, his vaguely hostile manner was off-putting. In another pushy move, when I reached to pour my own wine (I did not see him standing behind me), he ran over and scolded me, actually shaking his finger and saying “No, no!!” Um, hello? How about, “may I do that for you ma’am?”

All in all, it WAS worth the money—at half price, that is.


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