My partner had dined here for lunch on previous business trips, but never for dinner, and I had never been at all. It's apparently a favorite among locals. First impression: It's in a strip mall and on the marquee above all it says is "restaurant." The actual name "La Mezzaluna" is painted on the windows. So, it could be easy to miss. They've done a pretty good job of eradicating the strip-mall locale once you enter the vestibule and head down the longish walkway to the host stand. There are booths in half of the dining room and tables in the other half. One wall is a huge mural of what looks like Saint Peter's Square or maybe the Trevi Fountain; the lighting is just horrible.
Our waiter seemed to be knew to this gig, but he was nice as could be and very accommodating. I ordered the fettucine Alfredo with chicken and my partner ordered what he thought was going to be baked ziti Bolognese. We ordered a bottle of wine. The waiter came back after he'd opened the wine and verified that David wanted his dish prepared with chicken. Soon, here came a tray of delicious hot garlic rolls and a bowl of salad that we shared. The dressings were served on the side, which I love. Mine was the BEST bleu cheese salad dressing I've had in a long time, I said to the waiter, and I asked him if it were house made. He didn't know, so he ran away to ask. Upon return, he reported that it was Ken's Steakhouse brand--the very brand that I purchase myself and serve at home! "No wonder I like it," I said.
When my fettucine arrived, it was swimming in a very runny excuse for Alfredo sauce and the chicken looked as if it had been boiled. I waited for the waiter to ask if we wanted freshly ground black pepper and/or freshly grated parmegiano-reggiano, but then I saw the shakers for those and red-pepper flakes there on the table (Kraft and McCormick, I presume). I sprinkled some parmesan on the fettucine and stirred it around, letting it cool a bit, and the sauce thickened enough to begin looking like Alfredo. Then I looked over at David picking at his dish. I could tell he didn't like it. I tasted it, and it tasted fine to me, but was definitely not what he had ordered. It was a penne dish, layered rather like lasagne, with ricotta in the sauce and melted mozzarella on top. He didn't want to say anything because the waiter was trying so hard to do a good job. So, I returned to my own dish.
I wish I'd ordered it without the chicken, because the chicken was tough and rubbery, almost as if it had come from a can, or at the very least, way overcooked. It would have been so much better had the chicken been grilled or better yet, left in the barnyard.
As we left, David picked up the menu and pointed at the dish he thought he'd ordered. I looked a little farther down and saw the one that he'd received. They were vastly different. We surmised that the question about having it prepared with chicken somehow threw the waiter and/or the cook off course.
Anyway, I don't know if I'd ever return to this place, although it's a sweet, kinda quaint attempt at good Italian in a small town, and I do like to support locally owned places. Maybe I'll just have the rolls and the salad with that GREAT Ken's bleu cheese!
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