Castiglia’s – finally a hit!

We have been to Castiglia’s several times in the last couple of years, and have had some up-and-down culinary experiences.

I really like their pesto gnocchi – the gnocchi is made well, light, fluffy and pillow. The pesto, however, is somewhat hit-and-miss. My first time ordering it was summer 2012. It was beyond delicious – refreshing, salty, creamy, lovely. I had it again in November, and it was somewhat disappointing. The sauce was uneven, with large unpleasant chunks of garlic. 

M has ordered a few dishes, mostly seafood-focused, and hasn’t been impressed with any. The insalata di mare was a big disappointment, and he also tried a seafood pizza that was just underwhelming. 

However! We went the first week of December with M’s parents. I ordered Bruschetta, a side salad, and a New York slice. All of it was..wonderful! The bread for bruschetta was lightly crisped, a nice balance of crispy crust and soft middle that supported the topping well and had nice mouth feel. The topping was diced tomatoes and mozzarella, some basil, and a little garlic with a twee bit of balsamic. It was light, fresh, and delicious. The side salad was fresh, no wilted or browning lettuce, and comes topped with a generous amount of croutons, onions, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. And the NY slice was….oh my yum. A large slice, fresh from the oven, with a thin bread, crispy bottom, and oozing cheese. The light marinara is perfect. I could go for another one right now!

M and his dad ordered the Veal Marsala, and both cleaned their plates. It was lightly breaded, tender, and well-seasoned. The veal was accompanied by a nice portion of penne pasta, and the marsala sauce had a pleasant amount of mushrooms present. They also split some fried mushrooms for an appetizer, which comes with your choice of dip, and is a generous helping that easily serves four.

So….I really recommend their pizza and bruschetta. I intend to try their calzone next time! But avoid the seafood options…

Restaurant week continues…

Friday night, we met up with our great friends JS & MS.

We had reservations at 730 at Ristorante Renato, which none of us had ever been to before, despite many years living in town. Renato is an old-school Italian restaurant, and feels immediately familiar even on the first visit. The food is classic Italian, with lots of white wine sauces, marinara sauces, and veal dishes.We decided to warm up with some drinks – MS had a sav blanc, I had pinot grigio, and the boys… Well, M ordered a dirty martini. JS, for some reason, decided to order one as well. He had never had one before. He hates olive juice. The drinks were served, he tasted it and said “well, it’s certainly dirty…”  JS was a champ and managed to finish it, though.

We all agreed on the restaurant menu from the get-go. M and MS ordered Oysters Rockefeller, and JS and I ordered the mozzarella in carozzo.

Here’s the thing: MS & I joke that our husbands are interchangeable. JS is as picky as I am about food, and MS and M are both the adventurous eaters with similar “favorites”. MS and M prefer red wine and seafood, JS and I are happy with sweeter white wines and basic chicken dishes. A double date match made in heaven!

Anyhoo, MS and M both really liked their Oysters. M said he liked this oyster dish better than True Luv, but only because Renato gave him two oysters instead of one. J and I both agreed the mozzarella was good, but we also wish the sauce had been thicker or poured on right before serving. The breading sat in the white wine sauce and of course got a little soggy. Sometimes the crunch is the best part, and I did miss that.

For entrees, MS and M both got tilapia with crabmeat, which was served as a generous portion. JS ordered the cheese ravioli, which looked wonderful and had perfect pillows of pasta. I ordered the Pollo Milano, breaded chicken in white wine sauce. It was accompanied by pasta with marinara sauce, which was perfect to cut through the white wine. We all cleared our plates!

For dessert, we decided to each get one of the three options. We asked our waitress to explain the Spumoni – she advised it was an ice cream dish with cherry, strawberry, and something blue. But DEFINITELY not pistachio. Maybe blueberry.

So of course, when the Spumoni arrived….the “blue” layer was bright green, pistachio, and had slivers of pistachios throughout. We thought it was hilarious, and while I’m not a fan of pistachio, it was still quite well made. M and JS ordered the cappucino panna cotta, and MS had the cannoli. The cannoli was small and had a pleasant cinnamon taste.

Afterwards, we trekked out into the cold and went a block down to Castiglia’s. Castiglia’s is another Italian restaurant that recently had an amazing renovation to a chic, modern, upscale neighborhood bar and restaurant. We squeezed into a table at the back and the boys had a beer, MS had another wine, and I had a Ciroc Chic (Ciroc, pineapple, pomegrante, twist of lime). We sat and talked, laughed, and caught up.

We had a delicious meal, but the company of great friends makes anything memorable and more fun.

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