Reginato Ristorante – October 2009 (dt)
6.25 – 6.5, 6.5, 6.5, 6.5, 6.5, 6, 6, 5.5

A forty-five minute trip, first winding south on Route 32 and then diverting to Mt Marion Road, found DP8 on a return visit to Reginato Ristorante in Lake Katrine, minutes from Kingston. We last visited in April 2003, and we amused ourselves about what we remembered and did not remember.
                The restaurant snugly fits in a quiet neighborhood with only the lights in its front yard alerting us we had reached our destination. The entry leads to a reception room with its richness of dark wood and paneling that hearkened back to the late-1800s Victorian era. A few photos of yesteryear catch the eye before the passage though the bar area, down the “Be careful of the step” advisory, and then to the dining area.
                A warm ambience awaits. As dusk settled, the three chandeliers of a center bowl, surrounded by smaller upturned bowls, allowed muted light to seep under, with the upward light angling off the whiteness of the sound absorbing panels to then reflect or be absorbed by the combination of colors of the room. Alternating sconces of twin lights added to the soft light. Tall bay windows are curtained in maroon, with plants and vases occupying the shelf space, while paintings and mirrors fill the inter-window space. Beige-ish linens, white appetizer plates and ordinary silverware greeted our seating at the round, and very cozy and close, table in the room’s right angle corner. A few thought a sense of well-worn-ness had edged in.
                Water glasses were filled upon our seating, and two toasty loaves of Italian bread, with an ear-pleasing crust crinkling, begged to be sliced on the bread boards. Two ramekins of creamy butter melted promptly in the bread as we considered the array of choices of the menu. Arriving at nearly the same time was a raw vegetable platter (carrots, fennel, pepper slices, celery, as I remember) with a dipping bowl of a warm and herbed olive oil.
               The dining area is a large ell, about 30-40 feet down each leg, with an offset of a fifteen foot wide octagon, created by two columns on each side and a wainscot-high wall, that suggested another room but was part of the larger space. The legs of the ell were sided by tables, about 20 in all, with the servers walking down the middle.
               The waiter asked for drink orders, necessitating Tim to ask for a wine list. A glass of champagne, two diet sodas, and two generous carafes of house Montepulciano filled our drink order. The wine, about whose origin we did not ask, was a pleasant and smooth wine to accompany the Italian food of the evening.
               The first course consisted of the accompanying soup or salad. The soup (three of us) was a vegetable lentil soup with plenty of bits of vegetables, ham and loads of lentils – a full but not too rich soup. The salad for the five was a serviceable start for the meal – the usual greens, tomatoes, onion slices, choice of dressing, etc.
               Judy ordered one of the dinner specials, which included a choice from a short list of appetizers. Hers was a plate of a half-dozen clams oregano, topped with a coat of toasted bread crumbs, shared by whomever wished to partake; most called them good.
               Almost eighty minutes after seating, entrées arrived: Shrimp fra diavolo, with six to eight shrimp, a clam and three mussels, with a ‘hot’ sauce over linguine (Don, good; Chay, good, but too garlicky and not as ‘hot’ as he is accustomed to); a special – Pork medallions pesto (Deb T, a few thin cuts of pork, swimming in a creamy pesto sauce that seemed too heavy but was mostly ok); Baked ziti (Kriss, satisfactory); Veal parmigiana, thin cuts of meat topped with sauce and cheese (Ken, just ok); Manicotti Florentina, with spinach (Deb K, very good); the Veal medallions special, topped with cappicola and mozzarella cheese (Tim, good, felt like veal parm, good sauce; Judy, good ). Although the food was visually pleasing, a review of our comments reflects a lack of enthusiasm. Side note: anyone ordering a special also had either a side of pasta and sauce or the plate of steam vegetables.
                Reginato offered a few special touches. We appreciated the pre-entrée lemon sorbet cleanser that arrived in classic sorbet dishes. Our souls jumped a little at this, especially after all the Deb Karnes’ sorbets we have savored over the years. It was amusing to listen to Betiana explaining why she was explaining the purpose of sorbet (and the variety of experiences she has had with the uninitiated diner). Then, accompanying the salads was a giardiniera bowl, something we seldom see. After the entrées, a plate of fresh fruit – apples, oranges, slices of cantaloupe – was presented to the table. All of these rang our pleasure radars (my apologies for the mixed metaphor).
                The gap between entrées and dessert seemed to be a bit prolonged but we, of course, managed to fill it with some banter, current events, epiphanies, and less earth-rocking topics. More on those later but it is noted here because our cheeks were hurting from laughing so much, probably disturbing our dining neighbors.
               The dessert course started about two hours after seating, and all of us partook. Chay’s Sambuca and Tim’s Frangelica filled the liquid part of the order. The other orders included: crème brûlée (Deb T, satisfactory; and Judy, mediocre and disappointing, cold, gritty; she even left some, claiming she was full); the chocolate fondant layer cake (Don, good , a moist chocolate but light cake which was appropriate for the restaurant); cannoli (Deb K, good; and Ken, good; comments were other than gustatory); Tartuffe, a globe of vanilla-chocolate ice cream with a hard chocolate shell, cut into quarters, with a cherry core (Kriss, good, and shared with Don).
               As for service, we appreciated Betiana’s service. (Her inflection immediately had us guessing her origin and after several guesses, she told us Argentina, which led to discussion of some of our travels, and where Mendoza was, and accents, and a short history of her.) Her personable service was efficient, attentive, and friendly; high marks all around. Water glasses were regularly filled by a separate person. The pacing was very casual – two-and-a-half-plus hours which, at times, is too casual but we were having our own fun.
               The bill, with drinks, tax and tip included, was $87, a good value evening. So, off we departed, with the backseat passengers changing cars, as is our custom.
               Somehow, I feel as if the lukewarm review of the entrées and desserts does not do justice to our evening. We had anticipated this visit, found the ambience warm, the service competent, and yet the ratings may not tell the pleasure we had. The food, almost unexplicably, did not measure up to our expectations, and probably justifiably so, but we were charmed by the soft Italian music, the sorbet and vegetable bowl, the round table effect, and a desire to like the restaurant. The parts don’t add up to the whole and, thus, perhaps, the urge is to value the parts.

We had started at the Monteverds, on a rare Sunday night (as was last month, begging the question how rare are these nights), with a half-hour earlier start. Ken and Kriss had arranged a plate of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes and celery; Swiss, cheddar and yellow American cheeses; wine selections of Cavit pinot noir, Luna di Luna pinot gris, and Beringer white zin, accompanied by diet soda and Sam Adams beer. An additional plate held Halloween candy, roasted nuts, and M&M peanuts. And most of it disappeared. Thanks for hosting, Ken and Kriss.
               Topics of discussion started with our goings-on: a DC birthday trip, shorter work week for Tim, THE Adamses’ trip to Paris, the Karneses’ forays to Yankee Stadium, a foliage ride, THE wedding, the Karnes kittens, Deb’s DIY project at Nathan’s, school, more school, the women’s trip to Deb’s mom over the weekend, Ken’s DIY upstairs, Deb T’s retirement, Kriss’ antiquing and crock-hunting, Tim’s Social Security, and probably as many more topics.
               We departed on our aforementioned route, debating which way was shorter.
               These earlier discussions spilled over into dinner talk .... ... ....
               Meanwhile, we consumed twenty minutes to reminisce about our own weddings, how we met, memorable marriage moments (all because, at our first dinner date here, we had worn our wedding rings, an event not since replicated), other possible-mates-but-fate-intervened events, marital bliss, and more blissful (or less) events. We spent another ten minutes of ways Chay lies to students just to see what they believe – needles up the nose for swine flu, the intruder attack, the swimming pool in the basement, and more. Somewhere, we fit in the effects of eating cantaloupe rind, people who wear Viagra jackets, and on and on. Oh, we laughed.
              On to November and Windham’s Mill Rock, the site of DP8’s (although we did not call ourselves that until later) first dinner date seven years to the month. Be wary of the philosophical wanderings next month.