Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 16 - La Traviata

I am distantly related to Suzanne Adams, an opera singer who lived from 1872 to 1953.  She was, according to her wikipedia entry, "known for her agile and pure voice".  She was one of the Metropolitan Opera's leading sopranos at the beginning of the 20th century.  She also performed throughout Europe, including for Queen Victoria.  At that performance she received an autographed photo of the Queen, which has been passed down through my family over the years, and which now sits on my father's desk.  All of this is just to say that despite my almost totally unblemished ignorance of opera, I was able to secretly feel like a bit of an insider while dining at La Traviata.

Zef Shilaku opened La Traviata in 1973, and it's fair to say he may have cared more about opera than he cared about restaurants.  To this day, opera music plays softly in the background, the walls are covered with photos of opera stars, and many well known opera names have dined within those very walls, including Pavarotti, the one opera star I can name, other than Suzanne Adams.

The roses on the tables are real.

And I'm sure none of those vocal luminaries went away disappointed.  Nalani and I sure didn't.  It's a cozy place, and a bit worn around the edges, though I'd say it feels more worn in than worn out.  The food was delicious and reasonably priced, and the service was super friendly.  (We were waited on by two distinguished gentlemen who, I dare say, may have started there originally on opening day back in '73.)

Nalani had the Pollo Alla Beverly Sills (chicken breast rolled with pancetta, mozzarella, sauteed mushrooms & white wine) and I had the Melanzane Alla Vaness (layered eggplant, mozzarella, parmesan & tomato sauce).  Neither one was flashy, but both were wholesome and tasty.  Our shared salad was good too.

While Nalani can be counted on for dessert, I usually skip it, but tonight we actually got two desserts, and two dessert wines.  Nalani got the pana cotta, about which she used the word "terrible" and I got the spumoni, which was also really for Nalani, if we're being honest, and which she declared "awful".  Desserts are so often the Achilles heel, which is one of the reasons I usually give them a miss, but where Nalani and desserts are concerned, hope springs eternal.  The wines were good though.

One side note: this is the 16th restaurant we've been to so far this year as part of this project, and the third where they accidentally left something off the bill.  Tonight, when I pointed out that they had not charged us for either of our desserts, or either of our dessert wines, one of the waiters shouted, "Charge him double!"  Needless to say, they did not.  In fact, they didn't charge us for the wine at all, and actually topped up our empty glasses.

Would We Go There Again

Heck yeah.  It's close, comfortable, and delicious.  We'll skip dessert though.

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