Donna Monaco Olsen and Bradley Olsen and four friends dined at this Italian restaurant on a cool night in March. We wanted to love this spot so it could be our go to Italian restaurant as it is convenient to all and warm and inviting.
Located in a great area in West Harrison directly across from the ball field, this restaurant is a free-standing building. It has a very nice type of atmosphere inside, including beautiful decor in warm brown tones with tables and bench seating. You can see into the open kitchen from the bar area, including the wood pizza oven (the pizzas looked crisp and melty coming out). They have a sliding wall so that the restaurant can become larger when needed or for a private room. There were many families with children out on a Tuesday night so happily it seemed to be kid friendly. Many patrons seemed to know each other as regulars to this establishment.
Our waiter was very efficient but they definitely need more staff as they have no bus boys and the waiter has to do his own water, bread, busing, etc. This was not the fault of the waiter as he was serving many tables. Hopefully it was an unexpected rush for HVRW. Our wish was for a more true Italian bread in our basket, possibly charred in the wood fired oven to be enjoyed with the olive oil and fresh pepper.
Our appetizers were good. The salad had dried not fresh figs (an interesting and tasty change as it was more concentrated in flavor and chewy) and Gorgonzola cheese. It was good but could be improved by possibly the addition of walnuts or something crunchy and/or colorful as the color of endive, romaine hearts and frisee are very pale. The rice balls were nicely crisped and creamy but the tomato sauce needed to be developed as it tasted a bit raw. Unfortunately our diners returned their scallops to be cooked more as they were undercooked and not seared but interestingly they were paired with apples and bacon which was different.
It is “rare” that the steak be cooked as ordered so one of us leaned toward RARE this time (as it being our third hanger steak offering in so many days) and it was perfectly cooked. Very chewy mouth feel (as this cut should be) and tasty. We are not sure why it is sliced instead of whole but we have noticed this in a few places lately so maybe this is the “in thing” now when serving steak? It was strange that there was not a veggie with it and on the other hand the fish offering had no starch. The fish a bit mushy in its texture as sole often is, it was served in very small pieces but had good flavor with the crisp topping and spinach accompaniment. The cabonara had a lovely presentation with a coddled egg yolk shining up at you upon delivery, to be stirred in with the very salty pancetta that needed a bit more cooking as it should have been crisp with the fat rendered. There were two other offerings not chosen, including a pizza.
The desserts were definitely the highlight and we usually do not even order dessert when dining out. We are more of an “extra appetizer” duo then sweets eaters but I must say they really hit the mark on these. The Tiramisu was not as special but had a very good texture. The cheesecake had a sour cream topping and lovely sour berry compote on the bottom to compliment the absolute delicious creaminess of the cheesecake with graham crust and I vote this one the winner overall. Four of us ordered the creme brulee. It was the worst and the best creme brulee we have ever tasted (including in Paris). All with a crunchy, nicely burnt tasting top, creamy, sensual mouth feel, vanilla beany, smooth custard ever! Amazingly it was so over the top terrific that we left on a “HIGH note.”
We would like to try it again not on restaurant week, especially for the crispy pizzas and DESSERT!