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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Strizzi's Restaurant: Dependable family favorite

Lunch date #50, February 7, 2014

How can you not like Strizzi's? A long family favorite for dinner: their Rigatoni Bolognese and seasonally available Copper River salmon are some favorites, but I couldn't remember having lunch at the downtown location, and we certainly had not since starting our project. Mom wasn't sure she cared for the place all that much-I think that because whenever we go, she always has the fettuccini Alfredo, and they don’t prepare it to her liking. Still, for our 50th lunch she was game to give it a go!

Location 5 points: Perfectly downtown

Ambiance 4 points: I like the bistro-open kitchen SF style of Strizzi's. Mom said, "Nothing special," but she's been saying that for every place we've seen since Cheesecake Factory! We elected to sit at a window seat in the "bar" area (tall table) and I liked the granite topped tables and cloth napkins. The table was a bit on the small side though, and by the time out salad and sandwiches arrived, we were a bit crammed.

Menu selection 3 points: Mostly full entrees but for the usual lunch sort of thing-a bit short. Some sandwiches and salads. You can get a soup or salad with a ½ pasta order for $12.99. We both went with the lunch special of soup and a BLTA on ciabatta for $11.99.

Service 4 points: Very fast and attentive. Refills provided. She even helped us try to fit everything on the table!

Food 3.5 points: The fresh, soft French bread served with oil/vinegar for dipping are always a favorite of mine at this restaurant.  The soups were served first and were very large bowls. I had the clam chowder and it was only fair and lacking in flavor. I only ate about 20% of it. I tasted Mom's minestrone and found it likewise bland.  She thought it was OK, but complained that the pasta used (rather large corkscrew noodles) were hard to fit on the spoon and a lot to chew without cutting. The sandwiches were good but the ciabatta was a slightly hard to bite into as it was toasted a bit too much. Mom was so full of bread and soup that she didn't even try her sandwich, but happily took it home for another meal or two!

Value 3.5 points: Although the price was a bit on the high side, we thought the value score should reflect some positive points such as the large portion sizes. We could have definitely split one order and had plenty. The overall atmosphere and dining experience made us feel the price was worth the experience.

Overall score for Strizzi's: 3.83 points. Known more for their wood-fire grilled fish and pasta dishes than a sandwich spot, this is still one of my downtown standbys. Another place we will have to try again and order something different to give it another chance at a top score!

Note on our critique: Overall it has been tough to be objective with our scoring—and when we look back to Deans and Vic's—probably gave out some rather inflated scores. Now that we are seasoned critics, we're being tough! We might have to revamp our project and either re-visit some of those we have tried—or even venture out of Pleasanton and see what the rest of the Valley has to offer….stay tuned!

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