Friday, December 11, 2009

Antonio's La Fiamma Ristorante

Antonio's in Maitland is a great place for a fine dining experience, and our dinner there recently was pretty good, overall, but missed the mark in a few areas. Antonio's in Maitland is a part of a small local chain. They have an upstairs upscale or fine-dining restaurant and a downstairs deli. Three friends and I made reservations on a Saturday evening to have dinner at the upstairs, fine-dining restaurant prior to attending a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert at the Amway arena. So this was a big event evening for us, dinner and a concert. We chose Antonio's based on past experience--always good food. And we knew it would cost us a few pretty pennies, but you get what you pay for and this was a night out on the town!

When I called ahead to make the reservation, Gary answered the phone and was exceedingly pleasant and efficient. After taking my request, he enquired if there was some special occasion such as a birthday, etc., that they should know of and take care of. Exceptional service, I was impressed.

We arrive early on Saturday evening for our dinner. 5:15 is kind of early to dine, but we had a concert to attend. The dining room was fairly empty when we arrived, but did get busier as the evening progressed. We took some time to look over the menu. Our waiter came by several times to see if we were ready to order, and did a great job of explaining all specials and answering all questions, but we were not ready the first several times he checked. One friend asked if he could get the small beef filet prepared in the style of the large strip steak--our waiter checked with the chef and said sure, no problem. That was nice. Eventually we were ready to order, but then had to wait a bit--our waiter seemed to have disappeared, or maybe he just got tired of checking in with us. Eventually he did reappear and we ordered, but waited a bit long for that.

At one point some excellent bread with olive oil was served and one friend asked for some butter--but, he had to ask a second time. Hmmm...first a bit of a wait to have our order taken, now to have to ask a second time for something?  This was a bit of a disappointment. Overall our service was good, but it was not exceptional as it should have been. 

But on to the meal. Three of us did have a glass of wine. For most it was good, though one friend found the Riesling to be not sweet enough for his liking--more of a personal taste issue, I'd say, after tasting it. 

Our Ceasar Salads arrived in due time. I liked mine as it was very lightly dressed. All of my friends, however, professed that they would have preferred more dressing. Again, personal taste, but that's what it is. The salad was very lightly dressed.

Soon, our entrees arrived and we were, in fine-dining Antonio's style, all served simultaneously. My first friend had the Filetto al Pepe Rosa, but prepared in the Bistecca alla Griglia fashion: that is, an 8 oz. filet mignon brushed with a mixture of oil, herbs, and garlic, then grilled over a wood fire. He proclaimed it excellent and was very pleased.

My second friend had the Salmon alla Griglia, Salmon prepared in the same manner as the above dish: brushed with a mixture and then grilled. He too proclaimed it to be very good and was pleased with it. 

My third friend had the Pollo al Marsala, a breast of chicken that was sauteed with mushrooms and Marsala wine. It was served over a bed of mashed potates and with some barely blanched green beans. I do say barely blanched because they were. He did mention tha he thought they were not quite cooked enough, and I tend to agree--they should have been cooked a bit longer as they were nearly raw. The other components of his meal were very good--I had a taste. The chicken was tender, the gravy and mushrooms very flavorful. This was an excellent meal. 

I had the Ciabatta di Polo Ripeiena, a breast of Chicken stuffed with fontina cheese and prosciutto, brushed with a fresh tomato and mushroom puree, then baked in a wood-burning oven. I was not quite so impressed. The sauce was flavorful, the potatoes with the sauce/gravy were excellent. I agree about the green beans--though i like them crisp, these were barely warmed through, I thought. Though this was a stuffed breast of chicken, there was little evidence of the stuffing--I suspect the portion of stuffing was miniscule. Still, the flavor was good so that is not necessarily a bad thing. However, some parts of the chicken were a bit tough, especially the ends, the thinner parts. Overall this was a good dish and had nice flavor, but the chicken was a bit stringy in places. I probably would not order this particular dish again.

Overall, we had a nice dining experience at Antonio's, at the find dining restaurant on the second floor. The decor is warm and welcoming, the staff friendly. Our service was a bit uneven, and our food was even a bit uneven, I think. But still overall, it was a good meal. With three glasses of wine, four salads, and four entree's, our total bill without tip or tax was about $125. Would I recommend Antonio's and eat here again? Definitely. Is it one of my top, top favorites--no, but still a good place for a good Italian food and dining experience.
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