January 2007 – La Conca D’Oro
7.06 - 7.5, 7.5, 7.5, 7, 7, 6.75, 6.75, 6.5

A typical cold, clear night, although not typical at all for the season so far, greeted DP8 as we headed to the Monteverds for pre-dinner noshing. As usual, there was a plethora of food (why do we go out anyway?) from the ordinary cheese and crackers to luscious fresh fruit and nuts, along with mini pizza slices and mini dogs. We reviewed and admired the newest volume of DP8 which showed off Judy's incredible art work -- all of us at a round table (our favorite) in caricature. A few of us gathered at the roaring fireplace to try and resist some of the temptation while the girls surveyed the new bedroom furniture upstairs, along with the newest room under “pre-construction remodeling”. Then off we went to a group pick – local, close and already a firm favorite of some of us, La Conca D’Oro.
          We got our favorite, round table seating, which is good here because the acoustics are on the bad side. Our waitress, Lauren, greeted us with a smile and the recapitulation of the dinner specials without having to look at her pad – quite impressive given the variety of specials. Drinks included the usual -- a couple Diet Cokes, a pinot grigio, a carafe of the house Chianti and a carafe of the house Merlot (after the Chianti was declared not quite up to par). The continuation of the “Brazilian” conversation continued over fresh hot bread from the pizza oven and appetizers of carpaccio (raw veal marinated in lemon juice and served with shaved parmesan) and fresh mozzarella with sun-dried tomatoes. Food disappeared, as usual… Salads came dressed in a variety of ways – many chose the Italian with crumbled blue cheese, while other stayed with the tried and true house dressing – creamy dill and garlic. Both were declared very good.
         Dinner arrived after a comfortable wait. After much consideration (that would be hemming and hawing), Tim settled on the Chicken Francais which he declared excellent. Don went with a special of seafood cassoulet with a mashed potato garnish, claiming it good but nothing to write home about. Judy enjoyed a special of lobster contadina (clams, mussels, shrimp and lobster over linguine in a marinara sauce) and it disappeared and I heard no complaints. Ken went out on a limb with the buffalo steak special, which he said was quite good. Deb T went her normal route when it’s an option - the scallops of course, which looked awesome. Kriss went with the fried shrimp which she enjoyed, Chay had his usual “Conca” dinner of shrimp fra diavlo over linguine which I know he always enjoys. Deb K, after some hemming and hawing of her own, went with one of her regular favorites, stuff sole parm – yum.
         You would think after all that food there would be no room for dessert and some made the choice of abstaining – sissies I say!!! There were those of us however, who enjoyed the chocolate lava cake (awesome), chocolate mousse (just right after that meal), white chocolate covered raspberry sorbet (good), apple crisp (not that crisp said Kenny, a bit of a disappointment) or, in the alternative, their regular after dinner drinks – Frangelica and Sambuca.

The Up Side
         Always an up side is the company – the laughter, the catching up, the stories, the “waxing” education. I thought Lauren did a great job, one of our better servers in DP8 history – efficient, good at refilling the coffee (she got the hint right away which is more than I can say for previous servers) and the water glasses, friendly and even able to banter back and forth a bit with those of us that get a little rambunctious at dinner! Overall, food was good to great – always a plus. And the price tag came in under a $100 a couple, not bad for a first rate meal.

The Down Side
        It was dark that night – in the restaurant, I mean, more so than usual many of us thought, which made it hard for us “old people” to read the menu (some of us even borrowed Ken’s magnifier/light). Ken’s dessert was less than perfect and, as customary at Conca, the noise level is always a problem. However, with the corner round table, we insulated ourselves from that to the greatest extent possible.

It appears unanimous that La Conca D’Oro will remain a staple in many of our dining choices. The food, service and proximity to home make it an easy ‘go to’ decision for fine dining.