Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ristorante Giangela - Crosswicks, NJ

Tonight was a great night to try Ristorante Giangela as they were donating 10% of every check to the Anchor House Ride. That said, what better night to go give this place a try, and to support the Anchor House? Upon arrival, the parking lot was full, but we did drive through and found parking on the side of the restaurant. Upon first entering the restaurant, you will notice the warm decor. Nice white pillars, and nice white trim on the ceiling. The walls are painted a nice cocao color, and the tables are nice and simple with a lite tan table cloth. Soft lighting makes this restaurant nice and romantic. We were greeted and brought to a nice 2 top in the center of the restaurant. There were 7 other tables when we arrived, including a large 8 top, so it was good to see the place full of patrons. That had at least another 6 tables they could have sat, so they do have nice table space. The hostess then told us that they had bread in the oven, and it would be out shortly. The bus boy came out a few minutes later and filled up our water glasses and took our wine to open for us. I have never understood why some restaurants will open the wine away from the table, but this is not the first time I have seen it. Tonight we popped a 2006 Stefania Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah, and it was marvelous as always. Fresh, hot bread came out shortly after, and Zelda filled up the plate of dry spices that was on the table with olive oil. The bread had a nice firm crust, and was very soft in the middle. Good stuff! Looking around the restaurant, you could see some unhappy faces, but at this point, we were not quite sure why. About 10 minutes later, our waitress came over and asked us if we were ready to order. She never told us about the specials, and didn't ask if we had any questions, and we didn't, but it would have been a nice gesture. Zelda opted for the Ravioli in saffron sauce, with a house salad, and I ordered the Chicken Parm with a caeser salad. In my opinion, I think that I can get a good feel for a restaurant based on their chicken's an italian staple. Salads came out about 20 minutes later, and I was starting to see why people had the long faces in the restaurant. You could tell that the food was coming out of the kitchen slow, but the servers were also slow as well. On the 8 top, we both noticed how they brought out the entrees one at a time. With that said, it took almost 10 minutes for the 8 top to all receive their entrees. I know that if I were the first person to receive my food, I would have been a little upset having to wait for everyone to receive their food as mine cooled off. This seemed to be a trend with all the tables, and I found it rather interesting. Why not get a big tray and bring everyones entrees out at once? Or maybe the kitchen is small and they don't have room for all the platings in the window. I don't know. So back to the salads, my caeser came out with the dressing drizzled on, topped with some cheese. Upon first taste, the dressing reminded me of Ken's, straight out of the bottle. I don't think that it was bad, but it definitely did not taste homemade. If you want to make a name for yourself, take the time and make a nice, homemade dressing. Zelda's salad was the house, and her dressing too tasted like something out of the bottle. She made a great point that it has been a while since we have had a salad that "wowed" us! There's nothing to making salads, and all you need is good, homemade dressing. Why can't restaurants get this right anymore? So a good hour has passed now, and we see Chrissy, a friend of ours from town come in with a friend of hers. At this same time, our entrees come out, and like the other tables, they came out one at a time. Very odd! Zelda's ravioli looks great! Huge, what look like homemade ravioli in what looks like a rich butter sauce. I enjoyed this very much, and I could see ordering it. The only gripe that I had, which is a gripe that I have often with ravioli, was that the inside took too much water, making the cheese inside very mushy and watery. The sauce again was very rich, and it had a nice, pungent saffron taste to it. For those who are not big fans of saffron, I wouldn't recommend this dish. If you are however a saffron lover, then this is for you. My chicken parm came out with a side of fettucini, and it looked great. A nice large piece of chicken pounded very thin, with a good crust, nice melted cheese, and the perfect amount of sauce on top. Upon cutting into it with my fork, there was a good crunch to the crust. The chicken however was a bit on the rubbery side, and had they gotten this right, it would have been better. The sauce on the other hand was ok, and it had a very sweet taste to it. I don't know if this was a good thing, or a bad thing. All in all, I thought the dish was just ok, and I wouldn't order it again if we went back. After dinner, we opted to skip dessert, and we finished out bottle of wine as we chatted with Chrissy and her friend. As their dinner came and our wine ran out, it was time to go home. In short, I think that this restaurant has a lot of potential. It's BYOB so that is a bonus, the decor is nice, although we would change the drapes, and the food and service need some work. I don't know if I would call it a "fine dining experience" as they claim, but I wouldn't be surprised if we head back sometime, but not in the immediate future. I was however glad to see that they were making the donation for the Anchor House Ride, and that was a good excuse for us to give the place a try.

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