With a weave and a feint, Ken drove through the Old
Kings Highway intersection, rejecting the left hand
signal of the Karnes car following, maintaining
full steam ahead on Malden Turnpikenestling in at
Annarella Ristorante, an upscale Italian restaurant that
had eluded our dining radars until this summer.
The parking lot was nearly full as we entered the front
door, looking into a pastel blue room anchored by a
right-angle bar with about fifteen seats, a piano, and
two or three tables with seating for about twenty. Just
as quickly, we were ushered into the main spacea
30 by 40, ringed with banquettes, with about
fifteen tables filling the floor.
ARs menu hosts a half dozen appetizers, three
salads, two soups, more than a half dozen
primi, more than a dozen secondi,
and a few contorni sidesall in Italian,
with the helpful translations following.
selections showed off the ARs range, and even the
two steak-dependables chose otherwise this evening. So,
with a heavy borrowing from the web site:
==> Tonnarelli con
Aragostathin homemade pasta with lobster reduction,
lobster meat and a touch of brandy (Deb K, Kerry: very
good to excellent, for both)
==> Pappardelle al
Cinghialewide fresh pasta with wild boar braised in
red wine, juniper berries and herbs (Don: a hearty sauce,
tasty meat, with a flavor of distinctive herb, very good;
a good match for Chianti)
==> Lasagna al
Ragutraditional meat lasagna with bechamel sauce
and parmigiano reggiano (Ken, Kriss: both excellent)
==> Costoletta di
Maialeroasted pork chop with roasted apple and
fingerling potatoes (Deb T: quite excellent, moist pork
with the apple a fine complement)
==> Gamberoni e
Fagiolijumbo shrimp with Tuscan style cannellini
beans, tomatoes and sage (Chay: so-so, probably a bit
more bean than expected, with no pasta-which was not
==> Pollo al
Limone--parmigiano Reggiano crusted chicken breast in a
white wine and lemon sauce with spinach (Julie: very
A house salad
accompanied the entréesa half-handful of greens, a
half-handful of fennel, coated with a light lemony
dressing. Half of us thought it very good or excellent or
intriguing or inventive, with half of us judging the
fennel flavor and texture too domineering or unpleasant.
Deb K ordered the Insalata di Finocchi (fennel and orange
salad with black olives and radicchio) and thought it
Preceding the salad was the presentation of two plates,
each containing four pieces of soft bread bruschetta, and
a few pieces of sliced Italian bread awaiting a choice of
three hummuses from the separate wood traya worthy
beckoned to most of us, even though the orally delivered
list was short.
Tartuffoa ball of chocolate covered
vanilla-chocolate ice cream protecting its center cherry,
presented in several slices (Don, Kriss, a Quinn share:
Lemon gelatoa tall goblet topped with a lemon cap
(a Karnes share: excellent)
Vanilla ice cream with a set-aside shot-mug of chocolate
expresso topping (Deb T: good although she realized upon
delivery that sipping the espresso might not suit the
Sambuca, for Chay
nuttin for Ken
All in all, AR gave a worthy
presentation of Italian food, a welcome respite from what
usually passes as Italian.
The drink list consisted of a water,
two sodas, and two bottles of Salcheto 2012 Chianti Colli
Senesi, a genial match for our meals.
by Sarah was a mix of very good and so-so, with the so-so
parts mostly beyond her control.
She was attentive, personable, informative, friendly.
However, she could not overcome the especially busy
evening at AR, as was explained later by the manager, by
the evening of 75 diners when 40 is more usual. And that
high volume affected service time.
Salads were delivered at the 55 minute mark, with
entrées at the 100 minute mark, a bunch later than most
places we go to.
And the noise level affected Sarahs ability to
announce the specials; she compensated by gathering at
three different points of the table to read the specials,
since no one spot allowed all of us to hear her. The din
finally abated when the room half emptied.
be noted was the attempt to deliver meals en masse, with
the help of another of the waitstaff, and that was
appreciated. However, drinks were forgotten, and one
entrée was noticeable by it rather late delivery.
Not to be forgotten were the pepper mills nearly a
yard long. Not necessary but quite memorable.
And the wait staff dress codeblack pants, black
vests, white shirtscertainly sets a more formal
tone, and one that is stereotypically Italian (but
has been hinted at already. The noise level was one of
the highest we have encountered. The manager came around
at meals end to check on us, and to explain how
busy they were this evening. And we know a Saturday
evening at prime time is bound to be the busiest time of
the week. (An unusual note was an offer for a drink on
the house just as we were rising to leave.)
About fifteen white-linened tables filled the center
floor within the ring of banquettes. A single votive
candle, blue goblet water glasses, and three-piece
services marked each table.
Dark manufactured-wood floors matched the wide,
tongue-and-groove, diagonal wainscoting, with a beige-ish
paint filling the upper half. What appeared to be white
soundproofing filled the expanse above but the noise
level defied the tiles effectiveness.
Lighting came from recessed lighting (randomly spaced,
but apparently deliberately centered above each table),
as well as the Ulla Darni-ish sconces on two walls,
several ship lantern-ish metal-rib hung globes, the metal
work of which we admired.
large ceiling beam, ending in two decorative columns gave
the appearance of two rooms but it was clearly one large
space. A fireplace, faux or real I could not ascertain,
added to the ambiance. A maître ds podium, with
one large light, fit the rooms opening.
The final bill, including all
expenses, came to $100 per couple, a fair amount we
thought for the quality meal we had just enjoyed.
Overall, AR held good promise, better if we could choose
a less busy night.
The evening had started at the
Monteverd residence, with an initial clustering around
the counter, as usual, but we were soon lured onto the
back deck under the awning on a pleasant summer evening.
Ken made sure the glasses were full with a Montepulciano,
soda, or variety of beer, while Kriss had prepared a
plate of three cheeses and two crackers, a plate of six
fruits/vegetables, and the wooden pineapple bowl of
cashews, non-pareils, and, the crowd favorite,
Krauses chocolate malt balls. (Why did we have to
leave to go anyplace else?)
Topics from evening covered more ground than I can
remember but a starting point goes as follows: the
Monteverds new hybrid car (how it works, Kriss not
driving it, etc.), stuff about the Quinns (Julie retiring
at some too-distant point, Kerry enjoying another year at
C-D, whereabouts of children, adventures of offspring,
the dogs, and more), the rest of our children, our
surviving parents, summer vacation almost half-over
(isnt every day summer vacation for most of us?),
Debs dance camp photo job, Dons bicycling,
ascertaining what Ken is doing for retirement, golfing
outings and to which courses, Beer World, Krisss
outings with friends, the grandkid, pictures from Tim and
Judy, the Teator excursion next month, the Karnes
excursion next month, valuable crocks, and
theres more but it has escaped my attention.