I really wanted to love this place. It is housed in a beautiful old Victorian home and the courtyard is private and inviting. Unfortunately, the food and service were below par.
The house wine is listed on the menu as "slightly sweet". Slightly sweet? Think Manischewitz Concord Grape! When our server also mentioned the sweetness we asked if we could taste it and I'm glad we did. We ordered another wine, but they were out of that. Finally settled on a pretty good cab.
The house salads were flat -- as in 2-dimensional. A tiny bit of spring mix was flattened to the plate by the dressing. This was accompanied by a razor thin piece of toasted bread. About the equivalent of one crouton.
I ordered the Mediterranean Pasta, which was listed as a house specialty. This is the Fat Tuscan's version of a very traditional dish, and should be difficult to do badly. The menu touted sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, spinach, and capers. The tomatoes were not the flavorful sun-dried variety at all, there were four spinach leaves, and neither the capers nor the feta cheese had any flavor. How can a caper have no flavor? It seemed as if the ingredients were simply tossed on top of the (clumpy) angel hair pasta and some essential steps had been overlooked in preparation.
My husband's sausage lasagna was OK, he said, but the serving was small and left him hungry. We ordered focaccia, but they were out of that. Instead of letting us know, the server brought us a basket of grilled baguette slices and told us she wouldn't charge as much.
With their location and venue, the Fat Tuscan could be one of Gainesville's gems. However, the two nearby well-established Italian restaurants have nothing to fear from this place.
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