July 15, 2009

Il Cantinori for Restaurant Week - Another disappointment

So every year for restaurant week I decide to try a restaurant that I ordinarily wouldn't want to spend the $$ for.  And every year I end up somewhat disappointed with the results.

Last night I went to Il Cantinori located on 10th st between University and Broadway.  Having been opened for over 20 years, I really expected truly fantastic Tuscan cuisine.  I mean we all know how cutthroat the restaurant business is in New York, so surviving over 25 years is quite a testament to high quality fare.

Now I think of restaurant week as a chance to sample some goodies at restaurants, essentially as a teaser that will help me decide whether I want to come back for a real meal.  So in fact it truly is a sales model and advertisement for the restaurant for the rest of the year.

Unfortunately most of the time it falls short and I rarely want to go back.  The best restaurants let the diners choose amongst the regular menu, the worst give you what I like to call standard wedding fare.

Salmon carpaccio at Il Cantinori
Il Cantinori fell into the latter category.  At our server's suggestion both my friend and I ordered the Carpaccio of Salmon -(Mache salad w/ smoked salmon, capers & red onions) to start.  While it was nice, it was certainly nothing special - salmon, red onions and capers are pretty much a classic at many places around the city.  To be honest, nothing more than Le Pain Quotidien...

Pasta at Il Cantinori
For our entree we went with the Trofie al pesto con scampi - (Trofie pasta w/shrimp & pesto sauce).  The pasta, while nicely cooked al dente, was really lacking on flavor, requiring me to keep going back for more salt.  Ultimate sin in my opinion.

Hazelnut ice cream sandwich Il Cantinori
Dessert however was fantastic.  Truly the one high point of the meal.

I went with the hazelnut ice cream sandwich which was more like an ice cream cake. Albeit a very tiny slice.

Really nice crispy texture with the crust, filled with hazelnut gelato - not too rich, not too sweet.  Simply perfect.

Except for the fact that our server almost didn't serve us it!

For restaurant week, it's clear it is a three course menu, so when after our entree a server asks "would you like dessert tonight?" What do they mean?  Of course we would.  We are paying for it, right?

All in all, I would not likely go back to Il Cantinori - the advertisement wasn't promising enough.

Il Cantinori
32 East 10th (Between University and Broadway)

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