Messina’s – March 2014 (dt)
6.82 – 7.25, 7.25, 7, 7, 6.5, 6.5, 6.25

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A twist with a twist.
          For the second time in 136 events, an “Almost DP8” selected our destination. So, when Ross turned left and uphill from the driveway, we guessed Windham . But we sped past Bistro Brie, then lumbered past Chicken Run, and before we could make headway to Brandywine (the last guess), we pulled into the parking lot of Messina’s, a restaurant that crossed DP8’s path in April 2009.
(Many past comments still apply so I will not linger as usual; for a look back, go to: http://www.dteator.com/restaurants/zMessina.htm)

The menu is a full one, and for some reason, for me, a tad tough to easily decipher despite its organization. In the end, we chose:
==> orrechiette alla barese: little ear pasta (Deb K has a different name for them! And one that prevents men from eating them!) with chopped broccoli, sweet Italian sausage, garlic, virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper (Deb K: excellent, matched what she wanted for the evening) (pronunciation? aw-rehk-KYET-tay)
==> filet Marsala: sliced filet mignon sautéed with mushrooms in a Marsala wine demi-glaze (Mark: excellent, ordered medium-rare, although he ordered “cooked” which our waiter initially interpreted as well-done)
==> rainbow trout almondine: 12 oz. trout filet pan seared & served with toasted almonds on top in a lemon, butter & white wine sauce (Lynda: very good)
==> seafood fra diavlo: shrimp, scallops, calamari, mussels & chopped clams, sautéed in a spicy plum tomato sauce served over linguini (Chay: excellent, with a few minor details - the sauce a bit thin, the “heat” not as hot as he hoped, the calamari he asked to not include were definitely present)
==> veal alla classico: dipped in egg batter, sautéed; served with a light brandy cream sauce, mushrooms, artichokes, sundried tomato & spinach (Ross: excellent)
==> chicken patron, a special: white and dark chicken parts, sausage, peppers in a red sauce over ziti (Don: excellent, nice variety of flavor and texture, both Teators enjoyed it the following night)
==> baked salmon, a special: a length of fish topped with a Portobello mushroom (Joyce: very good)

Entrées came with the house vegetable, and roasted red potatoes although rice, or a baked potato, or pasta was available.
         Two wrapped baskets of thinly slice bread, accompanied by two ramekins of individual servings of lift-top butter, arrived within ten minutes.
          In a nice touch, compliments of the house (Deb K’s connection?), two plates were set, both with the Cheese Bruschetta—a four cheese & herb mixture spread on toasted Italian bread, melted, served, heaped with artichokes, waiting for a spread of pesto sauce.
          Meanwhile, soup and salad came with most dinners. The soup, a cup of shrimp bisque (deemed excellent), was a comfortable second course. (Some confusion about which dinners included soup meant a couple of us did not enjoy a cup of soup; minor, but clumsy when a soup was offered to me a half-hour after the fact and when entrées were half-consumed.
          All were eligible for the house salad – a mix of several green, with slice carrots, red onion, pepper, grape tomatoes, olives, a crouton or two, and a choice of dressing. Ground pepper from the mill was available; anyone tasting commented on how fresh and how sneeze-inducing it was.
          A scoop of ice cream as dessert came with five of the dinners, and two availed themselves (Chay and Lynda). (Kriss, we were thinking of your eight dollar dollop; you could have had twice as much for eight dollars less!)
          Don succumbed to the chocolate mousse snowflake cake (average-good but it was fun bantering with the waiter about her birthday week cake and how many days there are in a week); Ross enjoyed the cannoli with the crisp crust, while Ross and Chay enjoyed a snifter of Sambuca.

Seven (of seven) were red wine drinkers this evening, consuming two bottles of the Castello de Gabbiano 2012 Chianti – a sufficient enough red, especially with Italian food.
          Service from Collette and fellow waiters was good to very good – attentive and prompt. Collette seemed to take the orders, another delivered, another filled water, and an older gentleman ambled by once to verify all was well. Water was filled, requests filled with alacrity, with a pleasantness that fit the ambiance and mood.
          The final tab, $90 per couple, included a slight math contest between Chay (in his head) and Deb (calculator). (Both came up with the same figure but I am not allowed to tell you who won!).
          Off we headed home, in a full moon hanging over the town in front of us.

Of course, the treat of the night was Lynda and Ross hosting the pre-session. Four of us had not been in this neck of the woods in a looong time, and certainly not to the house, so it was an enjoyable novelty.
          Spread out on the coffee table in front of the flickering fireplace fire were dishes of cheese chunks, salsa, cashews and salsa corn-chip cups. A trip to the kitchen, with the view of the side rooms and deck area, effected the filling of wine glasses – merlot, chardonnay, or rose.
          The other highlight of the pre-session was Henry, the house’s Jack Russell, who entertained, encouraging anyone who would listen to play tug-of-war and go-fetch. The climax came when Lynda unveiled a child’s toy (found at the thrift shop, she claims)—.... Nice addition to DP8, Lynda and Ross. (And Henry’s helping himself to hors d’oeuvres while all of us were filling wine glasses in the kitchen added more character! The cheese chunks with canine indentations were set aside.)
          The Monteverds are still enjoying Florida weather, while the Adamses are RVing America’s far Southwest (looking forward to seeing you all again soon). And then Deb T was hustling back from her Amish quilting bus trip; but she was late enough, a tad tired, a little too far away to attend so it was DP7 this evening.
          Discussion topics: Henry, of course. Then, the house, history of the house, Pisano “kids,” the Notarnicola kitchen re-do and waiting for the island butcher-block top, Deb’s bus trip, below-average March temperatures, our narrow recent escape from a major snowstorm, golf and golf courses and golf business, Catskill golf, Greene County golf, the high school baseball season, Chay advising the C-D Life Smarts NYS champions and upcoming national competition to Florida, retirement (barely three months left for two of the three workers at the table), a student trip to France, skiing, the table full of children next to us who were quiet and well-behaved, and more topics that have eluded this pen.
          And the ride up Cunningham Road is a classic country viewscape. As we rounded the junction with CR 10, a view of Ski Windham emerged with its snowy fingers of ski trails.
          The way back was a bit trickier, with a squall that laid down a major dusting on the road. The snow melt of a 50 degree day was turning slushy in the flash freeze under the full moon, the same moon that hung over Chicken Run and its overcrowded parking lot as we left. And a thin layer of thawed muck that tracked everywhere had us tiptoeing to the cars.

Thanks, Lynda and Ross and Joyce and Mark, for sharing good food amongst friends, and especially to Lynda and Ross for such congenial hosting.