Meeting half way is difficult at times. Group dinners are always an intense negotiation process, and ultimately a compromise. Luckily tonight’s group dinner is with Catherine’s friends and I am coming along for the ride, without being part of the negotiations.
Well, it seems they are upping the ante tonight as we walk up the stairs towards the private dining room at currently “The Way To San Jose” and shortly “Allora Cucina”. Based on the impressive service and sheer enthusiasm of the staff, there is a chance that the new owners have already taken over, but I can’t judge as this is our first try.
Initially it feels awkward having a private dining room for ten people, but once we are all present, it is a great atmosphere, enhanced by some privacy. In fact, some of the stories told during the course of the evening should not be told in public! The guest of honour was celebrating their birthday and it seems dinner was relatively tame from some of the earlier celebrations.
Normally in a private room you are expected to enjoy the set menu though tonight we have complete flexibility. A few of us start with some calamari for entree including Catherine and I. It is nice, perhaps cooked a touch over, but still tender enough, and the batter is crisp and salty. The serving is substantial for an entree.
Next we choose mains and we share the traditional lasagna, and the pizza special which is fig, prosciutto, and gorgonzola. The pizza is minimalistic Italian like we love with a thin base and a focus on a few toppings. The prosciutto and gorgonzola are in good proportions, but there could be more fig. Overall it is a quality pizza and the others coming out look their equal.
Lasagna is always a crowd pleaser and having cooked three for a housewarming the week prior I was interested to see if the ragu of these chefs could be more concentrated in flavour. It certainly was! The entire lasagna was beautifully put together, and I appreciate the depth of the ragu now more than ever having spent over three hours on my own without getting the same intensity.
The dessert menu is not written up and instead the waitperson comes and presents all of the dessert options to the table. While we were up to pussy’s bow, this presentation was enough to get us all interested. We all pretty much tried one of the options. The tiramisu was expertly crafted and had all of the quality you expect from each version you try at the best Italian restaurants. The cannoncini, which are basically custard horns, are equally delicious. While not the best going around, it is hard to not enjoy flavoursome custard in a nicely executed pastry.
It has been such a nice meal, with a great bunch of people, that it is hard to believe this restaurant is changing in less than a week’s time. If the food and service are up to the same mark for Allora Cucina, there should be no issue maintaining the same crowd that populates this busy restaurant tonight.