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C. Paul Luongo's Published Columns

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Todd English's Tuscany


Anytime a restaurant manager comes to my table with an overflowing, fresh banana martini, I’m off to a good start! That’s exactly what David Weiler, Restaurant Manager at TUSCANY did on a recent Saturday evening prior to the FRANK SINATRA JR. show at the Cabaret.

TUSCANY has rustic charm with exposed beams with fiberglass boulders to emulate the Taughannick Falls. While there is no water flowing inside the restaurant, there is a courtyard near the falls outside with patio seating. The 55-foot high waterfall is called the Taughannick Falls because it represents a treacherous crossing point during the tribe’s migration.

There are 180 seats with a full bar for 10 seats (you can also eat at the bar) with three alcove private tables complete with curtains for privacy and a chef’s table for 10 looking into the glass-walled kitchen.

We started our dinner with delicious flatbreads with names like Arthur Avenue, Bronx Bomber, Bianco, Rustic Margherita, Tuscan and Almalfi Shrimp. They are like mini- pizza slices each with various combinations of tomatoes, mozzarella, pepperoni, basil, prosciutto, rock shrimp, scallions, etc. They range from $9 to $12 for a whole flatbread. Arthur Avenue refers to the famous Italian section of Brooklyn known for its Italian cuisine!

Next came Antipasto dell Casa, at $4 for each item, including “Vegetale” cauliflower, artichokes, peppers, etc. Salumi consists of prosciutto, mortadella, capicola and other cold cuts and finally Formaggio with a mixture of cheeses. I can’t eat cheese but made a good dent in the Salumi of prosciutto and mortadella with my flatbread and was by now sated before the entrees arrived.

But being the good critic that I am, we did manage to sample a bit of the Crispy Cod ($28) with macadamian nut crust, tatsoi salad. The cod was not flaky or tender. I also sampled Grilled Rack of Lamb ($32) with vegetable Panini, couscous yogurt (mine wasn’t well done as expected) and Garganelli, a wild boar sausage with broccolini and pasta aglio e elio. Ricotta pesto comes with this but I cannot eat it ($24). The pasta was a bit gummy.

My companions sampled the Wood Grilled Tuna with chilled noodles, stir-fry vegetables and toasted peanut ($32) which they say was very tasty, the Mahi Mahi with celery root puree, crispy oysters, plum Glaze ($32) cooked perfectly to satisfy my guests and the Filet Mignon grilled onion watermelon salsa, cornbread ($38) which they reported as “cool sweetness and warm buttery meat.”

We also sampled the Kurabutto Pork Shank with sweet potato polenta and toasted walnut salad $30. This was the hit of the evening. It’s braised by Chef de Cuisine, Jeffrey, for five hours.

As an extra attraction on Friday and Saturday evenings there is an Italian strolling guitarist who comes to your table and sings!

There are few desserts and therefore I opted for another banana martini as a wonderful way to the end the meal and prepare for the Sinatra show. The restaurant is open 7 days, lunch and dinner. Lunch reservations can be made by telephone at (860) 862-3236. Telephone dinner reservations can be made at (888) 226-7711.

Lunch is served buffet-style at the Tuscan Table everyday from 12PMto 3PM. Dinner hours are from 5PM to 10PM everyday except Saturday, when the kitchen stays open until 11PM.

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