I am not sure how many times I have dined at a restaurant within a hotel and left disappointed. These restaurants are typically overcharging to accommodate a busy traveller who they only have to serve once before they are disappointed and move on to the next business location. However, all of my misconceptions and previous experiences had to be thrown out the window for this dining experience.
To begin, Chef Rino is a bundle of Italian joy that has a way of introducing various Italian foods that wake up the palette. He channels the flavors of his grandma's Italian cooking by using her recipes on a few of the menu items such as the meatballs and the Tiramisu. The flavors are exquisite, authentic and are not delicate enough to not destroy the palette with garlic or other flavors allowing your tastebuds to have the full experience with each dish ordered.
The general feel of the restaurant is an open air environment with the ability to look right into the kitchen. Somehow, the open concept is not overdone and the ambience of the lighting and options of elegant booths or tables is perfect for both family and romantic dining experiences. The noise level is ideal for conversation among any dining party even while the restaurant is enjoying the vibrant weekend crowd.
As for the food and the quality, my family unanimously agreed that the flavors were fresh with some new twists on old tricks such as the Calamari which is infused with other components of fried vegetables and a flavorful mayo drizzled on a heap of goodness. I dined with my wife and three young girls (8 and younger) and we simply left "stuffed." We shared a trio of appetizers ($8-12), cesar salad ($7), entrees ($22-35), and finished with dessert ($7). We wanted to try the various dishes because we were interested in the Chef's ability to present italian food given his experiences listed on the restaurant's website. After all, an Italian meal would not be authentic without trying multiple dishes and going all out for a wonderful night on the town! Let me just mention that there are at least two dishes you should try if you decide that this restaurant becomes part of your plans; seabass and the osso buco which are both served with different risottos. My only suggestion (although I was happy with our choices) is that the chef did not offer a "special" menu that capitalizes on the current season. I would have liked to see a pumpkin ravioli or eclectic take on a rotating seasonal menu even if only a couple items.
The wine listing is lengthy and they offer a reserve listing if you so prefer. The wine listing is the only part of the menu offerings that are overpriced for the options available but this is typical of hotel restaurants and is not a reflection of the chef, but a reflection of hotel management. That being said, the prices for the menu items are reasonable for the quality of food provided and do not go too far as I mentioned other hotels do. I can assure you that this restaurant will be a part of our regular dining rotation and we look forward to future experiences - even if we eat the same dishes on our return.
Finally, the service was above average from the moment we were seated until we left. The water glasses were always full and the wine was poured into the glasses for us. Although this is an expectation at such restaurants, I'm surprised at how many waiters no longer maintain the right level of attentiveness to accommodate my drinking habits.