Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Carpaccio Trattoria - CLOSED

3500 NE MLK Boulevard
Happy Hour: 4 - 8

Happy Hour at Carpaccio goes late into the evening. You will be confined to the bar, the bistro tables along the wall, or the outdoor seating...but it still goes until 8, making this restaurant a place you could easily go for a discounted dinner.

We drove by Carpaccio Trattoria for the first time just last weekend. Immediately, I put it on my to-do list. (And with the ultra-long happy hour, I knew it would be easy to get to within the week.) Carpaccio is filling the hole that Belly left behind earlier in the year. We only made it to Belly for happy hour that one time, but I do remember that I loved their polenta tots. They were SO delicious. The polenta served now at Carpaccio, not so much (but I'll get to that a little later).

Walking in to Carpaccio, we were quickly greeted by a very friendly hostess. She gave us the options for seating, brought over the menus, and set the table with everything that we would need for our meal...but she was not our server. It took some time for our server to make it to the table to fill our water glasses. And it took some time for him to take our drink order. And it took some time for...well, everything.

Despite the long wait for service, the food came out quickly. It was also all very well-priced for the portions presented. We started with a salad to share.

The salad was made of chopped romaine and was topped with olives, grape tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, and crumbled feta. I added a little olive oil and fresh ground pepper from the table and, with that addition, enjoyed every bite.

For dinner, my fiance ordered the chicken Marsala and a plate of penne. (There were two fairly simple pasta dishes on the menu and when he ordered this one, I opted for the other just so we could taste them both.) His description of the Marsala was quite comical. You see, it was just a little too sweet. He found the flavor combination to be similar to french toast. French toast with chicken and mushrooms, but french toast just the same.

He did enjoy the pasta dish very much. The penne was topped with tomato sauce that had just a little bit of a kick to it. I had a couple of bites and appreciated the strong flavor. It was spicy, but not in an overwhelming way.

My pasta selection was a simple spaghetti dressed with olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and chopped parsley. It's something I've had before and have always enjoyed. This one had just a bit more olive oil than I'm used to (which caused me to be very cautious near the end as I didn't want it to splatter out of the bowl and onto my clothes).

In addition to the pasta dish, I ordered the polenta. (I almost always order polenta when I find it on the menu during happy hour.) At Carpaccio, it is a baked polenta and comes topped with sauteed mushrooms and a Gorgonzola sauce. The flavors were pretty fantastic (only if you like Gorgonzola, of course) but had to be portioned off rather carefully. You see, the ratio wasn't quite right for this dish. I was left with far too much polenta in the end. And I'm fairly certain it was this way because the polenta alone had almost no flavor at all. It was a white polenta (I've only had yellow in the past) and seemed a bit spongy. Perhaps it just needed a little salt and pepper.

We both ordered drinks to go along with our dinner. My fiance ordered a Vodka Gimlet (he loves gimlets as much as I do) and I had a glass of the house red. Wine, beer, and well drinks are all discounted during happy hour. Even the gimlet was listed as a well drink on the bill with just a dollar extra to make it into a cocktail. We opted to not stick around for a second drink after finishing our meal, though. It might have been a relaxing way to spend the evening if it wasn't so warm in the restaurant. Both doors were propped open, making me think that they do not have air conditioning. Hopefully that's something that they are working on. That, or a better ventilation system. Not only was it warmer inside than out, but the smells from the kitchen were quite strong the entire time we were there. I have a sensitive nose, but--this time--when I say strong, I really mean it.

I'm not a fan of giving a poor rating without giving a second chance, so there's potential for me to return to Carpaccio (after they've had more time to settle in, of course). There are plenty of other options still remaining on the happy hour menu for me to try. It was a good value, after all.

Food: Nearly Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Does Not Meet
Ambiance: Nearly Meets
Value: Meets


Carpaccio Trattoria

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