Hi again friends. We’re the Ellis’, both happy to bring you another guest blog installment of RW Fall 2012 and sad to see this chapter come to a close.
For our third and final review we opted for a traditional Italian restaurant, Il Forno Trattoria on Route 202 in Somers, NY. We have both driven passed this establishment many times and I personally have always thought how charming the building was from the outside. I did a little research before heading to Somers on this particular evening, and learned (from their website) that the building that houses the restaurant is Colonial Style and dates back to the 1900’s. Not only that, but it is located very close to the old Elephant Hotel in the Somers Historical District. The cobblestone median that we drove passed would give any traveler a glimpse of the area’s appeal and history.
We parked the car and headed inside to find a large entry way with plants and a unique looking water feature on the wall. When we went further inside, the foyer opens up to the front part of the restaurant in which you will find a beautiful brick oven behind the counter.
There were some customers waiting for pizza pick up. I heard a man behind the counter say “Balsamic” and “Pizza” in the same phrase and although I didn’t hear the entire conversation, that pizza sounded amazing! Balsamic on anything is mouth-watering, in my opinion.
There were many people working around us; at the pizza counter, stirring together a beverage, taking an order by phone, seating patrons, etc. The staff seemed to be like family. In fact it appeared there were several generations of people working here and it was comforting to see. Just passed the brick oven fireplace is a small bar area, probably just for making drinks, not really for sitting. Beneath that was a little bakery case filled with pastries and the like.
We were promptly seated in a front room with many tables, packed a little tightly for my liking, but there were only maybe 2 tables filled at the time. We were offered the regular and the RW menu to look over and the waitress took our drink orders; just water for me and a ginger ale for Kevin.
I had a heck of a time deciding what I wanted. The appetizers on the RW menu were things like Carciofi Fritti (Artichoke fritters with a Gorgonzola sauce), Mussels Prestoso (p.e.i. mussels in a cream sauce), and the one I really wanted which was the Eggplant Imbottiti (baby Italian eggplant, sausage stuffing). I’m a diehard eggplant fan, especially if it’s breaded. I was pretty certain that I wanted the Imbottiti and Kevin had his eye on the Carciofi. Then I looked at the entrees and the list was similar to most Italian restaurants; Gnocchi & other Pastas, Veal, Chicken , Salmon and of course, Eggplant Rollatini which is one of my favorites. I immediately scolded my penchant for being too food-predictable and asked myself – Self? You’re not going to get an eggplant app. and then an eggplant entrée, are you? Of course not! I quickly changed my mind and ordered directly from the regular menu this time. Kevin, forever being the adventurous one, decided on the Salmon Olivada (Salmon with green and black olives, onions, marinara sauce and green beans on the side). I ordered mozzarella sticks for my appetizer (I know, it was a total cop out) and Eggplant Parmesan for my dinner. A few moments passed and the waitress showed up with a rosemary seasoned bread basket and Kevin spotted the olive oil which was already on the table, along with some Parmesan in a shaker and the usual salt and pepper. We both dipped our bread in the olive oil, it was soft and fresh.
Then we had a chance to glance at our surroundings. The room started to fill up with couples and families alike, most of them having pizza. I noticed and appreciated the color of the walls, a color that I can only describe as a stunning Tuscan Sunset. There were some decorative windows separating our seating area from another, with little candles lit, reflecting and flickering. Now that I think back on it, although very family friendly restaurant, there was a romantic vibe as well.
Soon our waitress returned with our appetizers and a friendly “Enjoy!” and we smiled our thank you and dug in. My mozzarella sticks were dark and crispy looking and I couldn’t wait to take a bite. Kevin was knocking his artichoke fritters around with the tip of his fork so I asked him if everything was OK. He said that the fritters themselves had almost no taste and he was thankful for the Gorgonzola sauce that was drizzled on top because otherwise, he probably wouldn’t bother eating them. I frowned and felt bad for him because I know we were both really hungry when we got to the restaurant. I soon found out the lack of seasoning had hit my appetizer as well. I was shocked actually. The crunch from the fried part of the mozzarella stick was awesome and the cheese was fine, but I couldn’t quite place what was wrong. I took another bite, looked at Kevin and made him take one as well.
He said “These appetizers are both missing salt and pepper, I think.” I wondered if that was it? Or was it something else? Taking another bite of my mozzarella stick I added extra marinara to see if that would help. Nope. I tried adding salt and pepper to my plate and gently dipped my stick in there. There we go! It was missing salt. And pepper. Out of the large portion given, I only ate one full mozzarella stick. No sense in filling up on something that didn’t taste right.
Soon a gentleman came by and asked if we wanted anything wrapped up. I kindly declined. He removed our plates and I ate another little piece of bread. Kevin had finished his fritters. I kind of just shrugged it off as human error, someone had forgotten the basic seasonings in the batter or something, no big deal. Plus I knew I still had a yummy entree to look forward to. A little while later, our waitress returned with our dinner. I could not get over the amount of eggplant on my plate. I was excited knowing I’d have leftovers the next day! Again I saw Kevin fork-poking his dish.
I cut a piece of eggplant and studied it. There was no breading to be had, even though the description on the menu said it was ‘lightly breaded’. I found the eggplant to be a little tough as well. I wasn’t really liking the flavor. Soon I was the one doing the fork-poking. Again it seemed to be lacking basic seasoning. I had to be sure to get a forkful of sauce, eggplant and cheese in order for it to be at all appetizing. After a few more bites I really just didn’t want anymore. Feeling a little deflated about my meal, I looked at Kevin and saw he was eating his Salmon and then would look up and ponder over his mouthful of food. When I asked him if everything was alright, he said the Salmon was kind of bland on its own and slightly over cooked, however, as long as he took a bite with an olive and/or onion, it tasted pretty good. He said the saltiness of the olives and texture of the onions made it work enough to enjoy. I was relieved that at least one of us had something positive to say about the main dish experience. Again a gentleman came by to ask if we wanted our leftovers wrapped. We kindly declined. When the waitress returned, I was almost thankful she didn’t ask us how our meals were. As much as I wanted to be honest with her, I hate to be confrontational, especially at a restaurant. A former friend of mine used to send back food, cause a scene and demand money back and it’s not a fun experience, for the wait staff or for others at the table. Besides, our waitress was so sweet and attentive. She asked us what we wanted for dessert. Our choices were a cannoli, pistachio gelato, or rice pudding. Kevin immediately wanted the gelato and I was extremely excited for rice pudding. She came back quickly and still somewhat unsatisfied and hungry, I dug right into my pudding.
Rice pudding is something that reminds me of my grandmother. It’s both an emotional memory and a taste memory. My pudding was outstanding and literally transported me back to my grandmother’s kitchen. Kevin was in love with his gelato (so of course I had to taste it). We love pistachio-anything and it was so yummy, not to mention the whipped cream! Light and simply delightful.
Overall, the experience at Il Forno was cosí cosí (so-so). I’m willing to bet their pizza is outstanding though! Maybe we will return and try that some time. Either way, we hope you won’t take our word for it and go and judge for yourself!
We thoroughly enjoyed the guest blogging experience and hope for the opportunity to participate in Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Spring 2013 as guest bloggers again. So, until then buon appetite!
This is Aimee & Kevin Ellis – Signing out.