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Osteria Di Tramonto
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    Post #1 - October 31st, 2006, 2:12 pm
    Post #1 - October 31st, 2006, 2:12 pm Post #1 - October 31st, 2006, 2:12 pm
    So, just got back from my meal at Osteria Di Tramonto and it was everything I hoped for. I ordered the braised short ribs in red wine sauce with puree parsnips. The meat was fall apart with the for tender. There was just the right amount of fat in there too. It was like butter and wasn’t overcooked or chewy. I never had parsnips, but they were really good, sweet, creamy, and not mealy. The portion was just right for lunch. Other people at my table ordered wood fire pizza. The size was about 8 ½ by 11. It was thin crust and cooked in a wood fire oven. They were equally as good also. One of the people at our table went to the bathroom when the food came out and the waiter said he would take the food back to keep it warm and take it back out when she arrived...great service.

    The restaurant itself is new, open less than a month. It is nice and airy inside. It has a vaulted ceiling with a brick faux finish. You can see the kitchen where they cook from anywhere in the restaurant. Service was great, there were about 8 other tables there. Next to it there is coffee and sandwich shop by the same owners. They are building a steak and seafood restaurant next door also. This place is owned by the chefs that own TRU downtown. I will definitely have to eat here again!

    Osteria Di Tramonto
    601 N Milwaukee Ave
    Wheeling, IL
  • Post #2 - October 31st, 2006, 4:31 pm
    Post #2 - October 31st, 2006, 4:31 pm Post #2 - October 31st, 2006, 4:31 pm
    There is a nice preview video of the restaurant on Metromix.com. Looks pretty good!
  • Post #3 - November 16th, 2006, 9:40 am
    Post #3 - November 16th, 2006, 9:40 am Post #3 - November 16th, 2006, 9:40 am
    I've called this restaurant 3x during non-peak hours to get a faxed copy of their menu! Is this really that difficult?! If this is any indication as to what kind of service I should expect, well then shame on them!
  • Post #4 - November 20th, 2006, 12:34 pm
    Post #4 - November 20th, 2006, 12:34 pm Post #4 - November 20th, 2006, 12:34 pm
    I'd like to add some praise for this new place. It is very large, and consequently has a bit of a corporate feel; there are waiters and others employees just buzzing around. It also appears to be an instant hit; we couldn't get a reservation for a weekend night on a Wednesday.

    As for the failure to fax a menu, it is most definitely not a precursor. The service was one of the stronger points. This new joint is turning out food and serving it to the masses like a well oiled machine.

    The food was uniformly quite tasty. Our meal was:
    Beef tartare: they have both tartare and carpaccio on the very extensive menu. The tartare was a rich and tasty version (this was a precursor, because we found all the food quite rich).
    Wood roasted onions: Thick sliced of completely caramelized onions, swimming in olive oil, topped lightly with some melted cheese. Rich, none too subtle, and I lapped up every bite.
    Wood roasted mussels: I don't know what "wood roasting" really adds, but this was a pretty typical and terrific mussel dish. Good, plump bivalves in about a quart of garlicky, creamy sauce with lots of leeks.
    Signature pizza: the pizza is a more bready kind than thin crust, and ours had cheese, olive, truffle oil and arugal on top. It may sound odd, but it worked.

    Lots of wines are offered by the two sizes (quartino and something else), one of which is a large single glass, and the other about two large glasses.

    Desserts seemed a bit mundane, although my wife liked her lemon accented canolis (which they packed to go).

    As I said earlier, all the food was quite rich, but nothing dissapointed. While this is not a desintation place for you City folk, for us in the northern burbs, for that mid-range type of restaurant (below Carlos, Le Francais), I rate this much higher than Prairie Grass or Miramar. I wish it were closer to my house.
  • Post #5 - November 23rd, 2006, 6:51 pm
    Post #5 - November 23rd, 2006, 6:51 pm Post #5 - November 23rd, 2006, 6:51 pm
    They told me they would fax me the lunch menu when the lunch service was over. That was fine by me since I wasn't planning on going that day. But, I did get it. I would fax it to you, but I have since thrown it away. The food and service was on par and hope you don't let the menu faxing deter you from going.
  • Post #6 - December 5th, 2006, 9:00 pm
    Post #6 - December 5th, 2006, 9:00 pm Post #6 - December 5th, 2006, 9:00 pm
    Dined there tonight for my birthday (#0x2C, if you must ask), and it was outstanding. Not a transcendent night of food, but truly excellent in every factor.

    Service was exemplary: attentive without being obsequious, we were tag-teamed by a very warm and friendly server, and a nearly-silent trainee. Basically, she did the talking, he did the work, kind of like Penn and Teller but with less slight of hand.

    We were offered bottled or "filtered tap" water (I don't need no bottled water), and they kept it filled, which is often missed at places that start by pushing the bottled stuff, and brought bread, oil (with some grated cheese in it), and a small dish of various olives (surprisingly refilled, as they offer a plate for $2.95 in their salumi menu).

    We didn't order anything from the salumi and cheese menu, although there were some interesting things on it. We started with Arancini - crisp-fried breaded balls of rice (and peas) stuffed with mozzarella. Perfectly crisp with a cornmeal crust and gooey cheese in the middle, it's a nice ensemble of textures, and served with a bright tomato sauce with what I think was a goat cheese chunk floating in it.

    MrsF ordered the caesar, I ordered the soup of the day, which was sun choke with roasted mushrooms. The mushrooms were very tasty, and the sun choke puree poured over them creamy and rich (probably a lot of cream). A crisp crostini helped break up the smooth creaminess. The caesar was kind of deconstructed: big pieces of romaine, three big crostini, oven-dried tomatoes, and shavings of parmagianna about 2.5" square. Smaller pieces would have been easier to eat, about the only complaint I have the whole night. Nice anchovy bite to the dressing (but no little fishies visible).

    For entrees, MrsF had a roasted chicken picante -- nice way to change up the flavors and prep. Excellent skin (I didn't even get to taste it), and the bird had a nice poultry flavor missing from even many restaurants' preparations. It was served atop creamy polenta

    I had pan-roasted grouper (about a 3x4x2" piece), with ceci beans that had a vinaigrette on them, and a white anchovy aioli. The beans plus the aioli gave it sort of a hummos-like flavor. Fantastic, firm piece of fish, lots of flavor.

    Dessert: I ordered a cheese: peccorino foglie di noci or something like that -- wrapped in walnut leaves. Great mild earthy and sheepy flavor, not as strong as a romano. She shared the cannoli with me: three very crisp, orange-scented ricotta-filled tubes, atop little piles of white chocolate, dark chocolate and pistachios, letting you dip your own ends, multiple times. Wonderful.

    With the check came "chef's specials": marzipan-like napoleons, lemon shortbread, and microplane-thin biscotti.

    The whole meal, including a half-liter of primitivo and tip, was $120.
    (oh yeah, they have 700 Italian wines, and a primer on them in the wine list)

    Go. Eat.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #7 - December 5th, 2006, 9:48 pm
    Post #7 - December 5th, 2006, 9:48 pm Post #7 - December 5th, 2006, 9:48 pm
    Thanks for the details.

    And happy birthday.
  • Post #8 - December 15th, 2006, 8:01 am
    Post #8 - December 15th, 2006, 8:01 am Post #8 - December 15th, 2006, 8:01 am
    LTH,

    Osteria Di Tramonto surprised me in that I quite liked the place, even the couple of flat screen TVs above the bar were seemed less intrusive than most. Oh, I could pick on little things, bar service was slow, the house Mojo Italiano, made with muddled mint, Ten Cane rum and fresh lime was surprising bland and........like I said, little stuff. Where it counted, overall atmosphere, service, food exceeded my expectations.

    Crusty bread and a mix of good quality olive oil with grated at the table Parmesan started the meal, maybe I was hungry, but the simple combination really hit the spot. It was our waiters first day flying solo at Osteria Di Tramonto, but he was an experienced server and things went smoothly. The very nice, almost bubbly, assistant sommelier was new as well, but still steered us to a very nice Valpolicella.

    Osteria has a salumi check list, which to a cured meat lover such as myself is an invitation to excess, though the two of us managed to keep it to three, Speck, finocchiona, breseola, all three were good, with the the light smoke flavor of the speck taking it over the top.

    Speck, finocchiona, breseola
    Image

    Crudo of bass w/grapefruit vinaigrette and sea salt was well executed, but surprisingly devoid of flavor.
    Image

    Burrata w/roasted tomato and basil killed, burata is just so over the top delicious I can pretty much only describe it in terms that are not LTH appropriate. :)
    Image

    Lamb porterhouse w/salsa verde, garlic jus was perfect med-rare, good quality and tasty.
    Image

    Pork porterhouse w/sour cherries and Brussels sprouts had good flavor, though was cooked was past my desired med-rare. Brussels sprouts were quite good, I'm really becoming a major Brussels sprouts fan.
    Image

    We did not have a pizza from the wood burning oven* though the few I saw served looked good.
    Image
    Image

    Tramonto's Steak house, also in the Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling, separated from Osteria by a wall of wine, appears to be a serious steak house and one I'm looking forward to trying.

    Osteria Di Tramonto was a pleasant case of high hopes tempered with realistic expectations and the high hopes side winning out. (for once)

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    * There is a gas assist, though one of the cooks said they only kick in the gas to help keep temp up if they are busy

    Osteria Di Tramonto
    601 N Milwaukee Ave
    Wheeling, IL 60690
    847-777-6575
    http://www.cenitare.com
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #9 - December 17th, 2006, 10:11 am
    Post #9 - December 17th, 2006, 10:11 am Post #9 - December 17th, 2006, 10:11 am
    Gary,

    what is that rock in the foreground of the picture of the oven? Is it part of the counter, a massive chunk of rock salt, or something else?

    thanks,

    Simon
  • Post #10 - December 17th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Post #10 - December 17th, 2006, 10:18 am Post #10 - December 17th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Simon wrote:what is that rock in the foreground of the picture of the oven? Is it part of the counter, a massive chunk of rock salt, or something else?

    Simon,

    Good eye, it's a massive hunk of Himalayan rock salt, which I recognized from seeing the same at David Burke. Though I did ask to confirm.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #11 - March 1st, 2007, 4:51 pm
    Post #11 - March 1st, 2007, 4:51 pm Post #11 - March 1st, 2007, 4:51 pm
    I had a late lunch at Osteria di Tramonto last Saturday. At around 2ish, there were only about 4 tables taken in this rather largish space. Which means that we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

    The wine list is novel-like in its thickness, although is strictly Italian, according to my recollection. This Osteria adheres to the soon-to-be-ubiquitous means of serving by the liter - quartino, mezzo, etc. I'm not complaining. The Insolia I had was delicious.

    As soon as you sit down, you're given a plate of stellar bread, fruity, good quality olive oil and black olives. Sounds pedestrian, but it hit the spot.

    To start, we split the arancini. The best version I've had of this munchie. The outside was very crisp, the rice chewy and the mozz creamy. It comes with a lovely tomato sauce with a spoonful of herbed goat cheese dolloped on top. The tomato sauce, although a condiment in this dish, was really nicely balanced. Just when you thought the sauce might be too sweet, a bit of acidity kicked in the end.

    For lunch, we split a buffalo mozzarella pizza and what was termed as the "meatball salad." More on that later.

    The pizza was generally Neapolitan in character. Thin crust in center with bubbly bready crust at the top. Nicely charred. The crust was about 1/8" thicker in the center than Spacca's. They weren't cheap, slightly more expensive than the Bufalina at Spacca. But for the price, the pizza was teeming with good quality, noticeably tangy buffalo mozzarella. It was topped more heavily than most other pizzas of this type, but not nearly as much as your average Chicago thin crust. This pizza was delicious. I'd place it a close second behind Spacca's.

    As I perused the menu, the term "meatball salad" conjured up an image that lingers in my mind of a restaurant reviewed by Phil Vettel some years ago (I think it was Vettel), the name of which I cannot recall, where a rather pedestrian salad was served with tomato-sauce dressing. I remember the reviewer's reaction being something along the lines of, "what kind of a fiendish mind does this?" He hated it. I thought to myself, "Is Tramonto really serving a green salad topped with tomato sauce and two meatballs? Really?"

    Cackling to myself, thinking here's where a big name chef loses it, I ask the server, "Is this a green salad with tomato sauce and two meatballs on top?" The server looks at me like I'm crazy and says, "Ewww. Uh, no. It is a green salad with two meatballs with tomato sauce on the side."

    I was compelled to order it at that point. If you're like me and fear the salad dressing that is vinegar with a drop of oil, then you'll like this salad. Otherwise, it's just a normal salad. The meatballs came with more of that delicious tomato sauce. They were not the best. They were more oval in shape and oddly, one side of the oval was pretty dry, and the other side, moister, but not as moist as a good meatball should be IMHO.

    The dinner entrees looked great- I'd love to try them but I don't know when I'll be in Wheeling for the dinner hour.

    Service was friendly, although a little spotty- server would disappear for a block of time as I'm sitting with an empty glass and then reappear every 30 seconds for the next block of time. And, I might add, a tad condescending in one respect. I'm beginning to abhor the standard server comment when large wine lists are involved: "I know that wine list must be intimidating, so I'll leave you with that, but let me know if you need help." Did I look intimidated? Did I try to hide under the table when you handed it to me? No, I just need a few extra minutes because it's so damn big, not because I was looking through it, nervously wondering where the White Zinfandel is. But I digress. :roll:

    A note on the Westin complex. It is Vegas-like, as noted before. In fact, it's kind of a trip (in the figuratively hallucinogenic sense, as well as in the travel sense). I can't believe this huge, flashy and monied of an operation is attached to a Westin in Wheeling. For example, the swanky bathroom for the Osteria is reached via a stairway behind a massive glass wall of wine. It's kind of fun, and reminded me that I'm too stressed lately, I deserve a mindless weekend in Vegas. :)
  • Post #12 - March 1st, 2007, 5:17 pm
    Post #12 - March 1st, 2007, 5:17 pm Post #12 - March 1st, 2007, 5:17 pm
    Just last night, I had dinner at Osteria di Tromonto. While I'm not much of a drinker, the wine list did seem fairly deep and, judging by the massive amount of bottles shared by the Osteria and the steak house next door, there had to be a little something for everyone.

    I started with their salad caprese. Normally this is something I would never order out of season, the fact that the menu stated that it was made with burrata compelled me to order it and I'm very glad I did! In a nod to the unseasonality of tomatoes, this salad was made with plum tomatoes that had been split and oven roasted, bringing out their sweetness. The combination of those sweet tomatoes and the fresh-as-newly-fallen-snow burrata was top notch! Others at the table split Caesar salads, which were similar in preparation to those served at the steakhouse next door. I followed up the salad with house-made cavatelli which was served with a red wine braised duck ragu. It was so good that I could have eaten five orders of this dish. I also tried the house-made gnocci, which were very fluffy and delicate...almost like little balls of mashed potatoes. While I generally prefer my gnocci a bit more toothsome, these were pretty good and were served with a simple marinara. The two women at the table ordered whitefish which was prepared with a lemon butter sauce. I didn't try it, but the girls pronounced it very good with an exotic taste that they couldn't quite put their finger on.

    Desserts included profiteroles, an apple crostini and a small piece of very dense fudge cake. As much as I want to like Gale Gand's pastries, they always leave me a little flat. Last night was no different, although the fudge cake was the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, it is not on the menu. It was served as a complimentary birthday "surprise".

    I can't see schlepping out to Wheeling all that often, but Osteria di Tromonto is a very solid restaurant that is much better than it has to be. They are open for three meals a day because of their location within the hotel. If I ever make it back there, in addition to ordering both te caprese and the cavatelli again, I'd also like to try some of their house cured salumi.

    Osteria di Tramonto
    601 N. Milwaukee Ave.
    (In the Westin Hotel)
    Wheeling, IL
    847-777-6570
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #13 - March 1st, 2007, 7:23 pm
    Post #13 - March 1st, 2007, 7:23 pm Post #13 - March 1st, 2007, 7:23 pm
    Steve,

    Just a quick note that even though they tout the salume as house-cured at OdT, none of it is actually produced in house. I've dined there several times and last time I had dinner there I specifically asked which items were cured in house. Several minutes later our server returned to the table and told us that, in fact, none of them were made in house.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #14 - May 3rd, 2007, 9:25 am
    Post #14 - May 3rd, 2007, 9:25 am Post #14 - May 3rd, 2007, 9:25 am
    Has anyone had anything at OdT lately worth mentioning? I'm headed there for a friends birthday dinner on Sat and would love to hear more from others about anything they've had that was good (and not so good i suppose)
  • Post #15 - May 3rd, 2007, 9:34 am
    Post #15 - May 3rd, 2007, 9:34 am Post #15 - May 3rd, 2007, 9:34 am
    keevieweevie wrote:Has anyone had anything at OdT lately worth mentioning? I'm headed there for a friends birthday dinner on Sat and would love to hear more from others about anything they've had that was good (and not so good i suppose)

    This place really fell off a cliff, IMO. It started out great with a bevy of unique, interesting and even relatively risky offerings but it wasn't too long before most of them disappeared from the menu. And, as I posted above, the allegedly house-cured meats, are entirely outsourced.

    Sadly, the best thing I've had there recently was well-executed the Chicken Parmigiana which, if OdT wanted to be taken seriously, wouldn't even be on the menu.

    Between its locale and the fact that it exists in a hotel, I'm guessing the original aspirations for OdT were not financially viable.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #16 - May 4th, 2007, 4:43 pm
    Post #16 - May 4th, 2007, 4:43 pm Post #16 - May 4th, 2007, 4:43 pm
    Osteria Di Tramonto huh? Everyone around here (I live fairly close) just calls it that new Italian restaurant in the Westin. They could have done better with the name.
  • Post #17 - May 4th, 2007, 5:17 pm
    Post #17 - May 4th, 2007, 5:17 pm Post #17 - May 4th, 2007, 5:17 pm
    Kesey wrote:Osteria Di Tramonto huh? Everyone around here (I live fairly close) just calls it that new Italian restaurant in the Westin. They could have done better with the name.


    What exactly is wrong with the name?
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #18 - May 4th, 2007, 5:17 pm
    Post #18 - May 4th, 2007, 5:17 pm Post #18 - May 4th, 2007, 5:17 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    keevieweevie wrote:Has anyone had anything at OdT lately worth mentioning? I'm headed there for a friends birthday dinner on Sat and would love to hear more from others about anything they've had that was good (and not so good i suppose)

    This place really fell off a cliff, IMO. It started out great with a bevy of unique, interesting and even relatively risky offerings but it wasn't too long before most of them disappeared from the menu. And, as I posted above, the allegedly house-cured meats, are entirely outsourced.

    Sadly, the best thing I've had there recently was well-executed the Chicken Parmigiana which, if OdT wanted to be taken seriously, wouldn't even be on the menu.

    Between its locale and the fact that it exists in a hotel, I'm guessing the original aspirations for OdT were not financially viable.

    =R=


    Oh no, I sent someone there recently based on the initial reports. I didn't realize it was already on downhill alert.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #19 - May 4th, 2007, 6:59 pm
    Post #19 - May 4th, 2007, 6:59 pm Post #19 - May 4th, 2007, 6:59 pm
    The Sun-Times sure liked it today. With some reservations, like the prime rib. You're covered, at least.
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  • Post #20 - May 4th, 2007, 7:21 pm
    Post #20 - May 4th, 2007, 7:21 pm Post #20 - May 4th, 2007, 7:21 pm
    That was the steakhouse, in the same hotel. They reviewed OdT back in december
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #21 - May 4th, 2007, 7:22 pm
    Post #21 - May 4th, 2007, 7:22 pm Post #21 - May 4th, 2007, 7:22 pm
    Oh whoops. I forgot there were two Tramonto thingies there.
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  • Post #22 - May 4th, 2007, 8:54 pm
    Post #22 - May 4th, 2007, 8:54 pm Post #22 - May 4th, 2007, 8:54 pm
    Mike G wrote:Oh whoops. I forgot there were two Tramonto thingies there.


    Actually three, if you count the coffee/dessert bar, Gales.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #23 - May 4th, 2007, 10:01 pm
    Post #23 - May 4th, 2007, 10:01 pm Post #23 - May 4th, 2007, 10:01 pm
    Christopher Gordon wrote:
    Kesey wrote:Osteria Di Tramonto huh? Everyone around here (I live fairly close) just calls it that new Italian restaurant in the Westin. They could have done better with the name.


    What exactly is wrong with the name?


    Nobody can remember it. And nobody uses it when referring to the place. Even Mike above calls it a Tramonto thingy.
  • Post #24 - May 6th, 2007, 2:26 am
    Post #24 - May 6th, 2007, 2:26 am Post #24 - May 6th, 2007, 2:26 am
    the reports of this place seemingly going downhill seem to be on the mark. I was thoroughly unimpressed with everything my party and I had for dinner. Things started out with good crusty bread accompanied by plates of olives, olive oil, and parm (all on one plate) Olives were nice and briny and the olive oil seemed to be of good quality. Two small plates of pasta salad came five minutes later as a sample. Nothing very special that deserves writing about. I ordered the Saltimboca because our waitress recommended it, declaring it her favorite dish on the menu. The menu states the Saltimboca has prosciutto, sage, and a couple other things I don't remember. All that came on the plate was a fairly large piece of veal and some red sauce which was not tomato. It didn't taste like anything, as hard as that might be to believe. It was just there and had me scratching my head. The veal was pounded sooo thin and spent way too much time in the fryer that it was basically a frisbee. And I would like to know where the prosciutto and sage went! The friend next to me order the veal parm and it was the exact same thing! He offered me some of his dish so I could do a taste test and there was absolutely no difference. We ended up playing a game of veal parm/saltimboca taste test challenge. After everyone got a turn playing, we determined the two were exactly the same. If there was prosciutto and sage, it was probably fried to oblivion.
    I fail to comprehend how the saltimboca could possible be our waitresses favorite when it's so poorly executed.
    After asking everyone else in the party how their dishes were and getting thumbs down from 8 of 8(chicken piccata, short ribs, parpadelle, etc) I decided I won't be back. It was a total disappointment.
  • Post #25 - May 6th, 2007, 1:20 pm
    Post #25 - May 6th, 2007, 1:20 pm Post #25 - May 6th, 2007, 1:20 pm
    Just to cast a dissenting vote. I agree with Ronnie Suburban that the menu has been dumbed down a bit. However, the execution of the dishes we had about a month ago was excellent. I found the mussel appetizer to be rich and delicious. They also had a special appetizer -- a mozzeralla tasting -- that was creative and delicious. I had a pasta with duck (can't remember the name) that was top nothc. It is true that pasta carbonara was a "special" that day, and a wood roasted onion dish I'd had several months ago was gone. However, all of the food we had, while perhaps not creative, was quite tasty. To me, it was still a bit better than most other places in the area.

    Jonah
  • Post #26 - May 6th, 2007, 2:58 pm
    Post #26 - May 6th, 2007, 2:58 pm Post #26 - May 6th, 2007, 2:58 pm
    Jonah wrote:Just to cast a dissenting vote. I agree with Ronnie Suburban that the menu has been dumbed down a bit. However, the execution of the dishes we had about a month ago was excellent. I found the mussel appetizer to be rich and delicious. They also had a special appetizer -- a mozzeralla tasting -- that was creative and delicious. I had a pasta with duck (can't remember the name) that was top nothc. It is true that pasta carbonara was a "special" that day, and a wood roasted onion dish I'd had several months ago was gone. However, all of the food we had, while perhaps not creative, was quite tasty. To me, it was still a bit better than most other places in the area.

    Jonah

    Actually, I agree -- at least in part -- about the execution. I'm not being sarcastic when I say that the chicken parmigiana was one of the best renditions I ever had. It was perfectly crisp outside and moist within. It had been pounded out for uniformity but not so thinly that it dried out when cooked. The cheese was pungent and melted perfectly, the tomato sauce was flavorful and bright and the dish was piping hot when it was placed in front of me. OTOH, the lasagna was an absolute mess.

    I've heard some credible rumors lately that additional changes are coming at OdT -- specifically to the kitchen. A new focus will be placed on reducing the overall number of tasks the kitchen has to perform and also on reducing the given preparation times of the dishes. If the rumors are true -- and I believe they are -- even what's still favorable about OdT is likely to change.

    I had such high hopes for this place. I cannot believe how significantly it differs from what it originally was and was it was originally touted to be :cry:

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #27 - May 23rd, 2007, 12:51 pm
    Post #27 - May 23rd, 2007, 12:51 pm Post #27 - May 23rd, 2007, 12:51 pm
    I met with some friends there for a midway dinner early in May, based on the glowing recommendations from Cathy, Gary and Steve.

    It was a very sociable and fairly heavy drinking evening (we brought a number of wonderful wines, starting with a 1999 Prager GV, a 1996 Abadia Retuerta, and a 96 Bordeaux whose name escapes me - interestingly, and goofily, the sommelier explained we would normally be limited to 2 bottles on corkage, even for our party of 6, so she cut us off after 3 even though we had a 95 Beausejour Becot still to sample - so we ordered a southern Italian red that was as to the previous wines as an Iggy Pop performance is to a piano minuet - not entirely inappropriate at that point in the evening).

    We enjoyed the small plates most - starting with the olives and bread, including the salume, some mussels, the daily bruschetta. Nothing wildly adventurous, as noted, but decent food, well done - good ingredients, good technique, generally well-balanced and seasoned, tho a few things (the bruschetta comes to mind) did not work that well as a whole. Then we shared a couple of pastas and finished with some meats. The pastas were also quite good. The wine was pretty food friendly, and the food was wine-friendly. We got there at 7 on a Wednesday and the place was mostly full - by the time we left, between 930 and 10, we pretty much were closing the place down.

    Unfortunately I did not take notes. What I can say is that it was way too much food, generally quite tasty and everyone left well satisfied. Prices seemed fair for what we got. I suppose that given its location in the hotel, its place in the expanding Tramonto/Gand empire, and its role as the all day long restaurant for the hotel, my expectations were not for a delightful, creative meal, not Avec by any stretch, more like Quartino. On the Avec-Quartino scale of small-plate Italian, it was a lot closer to Avec in execution and quality of ingredients (to the degree I dimly recall anything through the haze of drunken camaraderie), though it definitely did not have the keen palate or creativity of Avec behind it.

    So, if you give Avec a 10, and Quartino a 4, it rates a solid 7-7 1/2. Good food, nice room, decent price, but not really worth a trip on its own. Still I must repeat that ours was mostly a shared meal, focused on appetizers and pastas. We did order main courses, but they were not really the high point, and we were suffering both from a surfeit of good wine, and being really full by the time they came. Having said that, my Osso Bucco seemed quite respectable, if a tad under-seasoned, both at the table that night and a day later.

    Probably the best hotel breakfast cafe I have ever dined at. :wink:

    Two other brief responses to the above posts -

    I guess it shows that I am too involved in this whole thing when the word Osteria seems quite normal, and calling it di Tramonto, for Rick, seems obvious. Does not seem a weird name to me at all, but I will not claim to be anywhere close to normal.

    And Ronnie, I am not sure it shows that the financials did not work when they "dumb" down the menu as you call it. Seems like the place has been doing good business all along, and I imagine they charged enough for each dish to make money on it (I believe Rick, Gale and Westin have all done this before). Rather, I suspect it is merely a nod to what the guests are ordering. After all, a decent portion of their business is hotel traffic, and then there is a big group of local suburbanites looking for an Italian meal - and neither of those groups are likely to be after adventuous fare. As to the lie about the source of the salume, I see your point, and found the selection a bit narrow and not terribly interesting, but the sausage was pretty good.

    Lastly, I find it interesting that the web site does not provide a menu.

    I would go back if in the 'hood, and had, on the whole, a very nice meal.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #28 - May 23rd, 2007, 1:19 pm
    Post #28 - May 23rd, 2007, 1:19 pm Post #28 - May 23rd, 2007, 1:19 pm
    dicksond wrote:And Ronnie, I am not sure it shows that the financials did not work when they "dumb" down the menu as you call it. Seems like the place has been doing good business all along, and I imagine they charged enough for each dish to make money on it (I believe Rick, Gale and Westin have all done this before). Rather, I suspect it is merely a nod to what the guests are ordering. After all, a decent portion of their business is hotel traffic, and then there is a big group of local suburbanites looking for an Italian meal - and neither of those groups are likely to be after adventuous fare. As to the lie about the source of the salume, I see your point, and found the selection a bit narrow and not terribly interesting, but the sausage was pretty good.

    Thanks for the report, dicksond. I'm glad your experience was a mostly positive one.

    I sure hope I didn't use the term "'dumb'" down but if I did, I certainly regret it. Restaurants are businesses and decisions made with an eye on running successfully are never dumb, even if they don't correspond with my personal eating agenda.

    Also, I wouldn't term the fact that the salume isn't made in-house a "lie." I did consider it a bummer when I learned this but figured that it was actually part of their initial plan and probably got changed for some reason or another. The reality is that pre-opening press releases don't always match up with actual menus. That doesn't necessarily mean that the initial claim was a "lie." Still, house-made product would be a big draw for me -- especially if it were good.

    Yes, my friends who work FOH at OdT tell me that the stream of customers at OdT has been steady. I think we're essentially saying the same thing about the evolution of the menu. I don't think that it was necessarily a function of fading business but more so, an admission that some initial plans for the menu may have been too ambitious and therefore, not cost effective. Why keep certain (high-end) items on-hand if they're not moving? There's really no reason to do so.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #29 - May 23rd, 2007, 2:00 pm
    Post #29 - May 23rd, 2007, 2:00 pm Post #29 - May 23rd, 2007, 2:00 pm
    Yes, upon review Ronnie, I see that dumbed down was not the term you used. We do agree, pretty much. The unknown, of course, is the degree to which your fears about what is to come will be realized.

    The inherent problem for OdT is just the need to function as a basic hotel cafe while also trying to be something more. Over time, I would not be surprised if it comes to look more and more like a hotel cafe. There is, after all, a reason why such places are what they are and fairly uniform across our country. There are exceptions, of course, but they tend to be in places that are exceptional in other ways as well, and the Westin in Wheeling does not seem to fit that description as new and nice as it appears to be.

    The real tip off will be when Rick pulls his name off the place - that would signal the OdT experiment is officially at an end. Until then, I will expect a decent plate of pasta and some respectable small plates. He has to protect the brand, after all. :roll:

    I really did like the place, even if my comments keep sounding snarky. Currently rated a 7+ on the Avec scale, but recently downrated and with a change alert in place.

    Edited to add: I did finally find a menu on the web site, but it is a pdf that takes forever to load.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #30 - June 5th, 2007, 1:29 pm
    Post #30 - June 5th, 2007, 1:29 pm Post #30 - June 5th, 2007, 1:29 pm
    Thanks everyone for the great reviews. I had been excited about trying this place with some family that lives nearby, but I'm a bit lukewarm about it now. Unfortunately, that isn't an area with a ton of other great places.

    I am particularly disappointed with the website. It's designed terribly. First, if you type "Osteria di Tramonto" into google, the restaurant website should be the first hit. It isn't, because the restaurant didn't pay the $10 a year to reserve osteriaditramonto.com and linked it cenitare.com.

    From cenitare.com, when you click on Osteria Di Tramonto, where's the menu and other info about the restaurant?? Ah, you have to click the box that says "Wheeling". That makes no sense. It shouldn't take me 5 minutes of searching to find the menu.

    Ah, the menu...a list of dishes, great. Prices? No. So are we talking about $30 entrees that are not appropriate for the budget of some in my group? Or are we talking about $20 entrees? I shouldn't have to call the restaurant and ask them to fax me a menu so I can figure out the price point.

    More generally, the website ricktramonto.com and Tru's website give no link to Cenitare.com or to Osteria di Tramonto. The former seems not to have been updated in a few years.

    I know this isn't a forum about website design. But little things like this matter. I am much more likely to try a place when they make it easier for me to figure out what and where it is.

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