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Little Shine at La Lanterna di Vittorio

Last week, my friend Josh and I checked out La Lanterna di Vittorio, a pizza, panini and wine bar on Macdougal and W.3rd. Save the excellent company, the experience was just so-so. I give it high marks for atmosphere and low marks for service/food.

The restaurant is a long and narrow space above the jazz club The Bar Next Door with a charming back garden. There are very few tables ‘inside’ – most everyone sits in the covered greenhouse outback (which despite the beautiful lanterns and lush greenery, can get very hot in the summer). Josh and I were both enamored with the relaxed vibe of the garden terrace (and with the twinkling christmas lights – who isn’t a sucker for those?).

Unfortunately though, the food and service were subpar. I’m convinced the reason why we didn’t like the food is because neither of us felt up to ordering an entire pizza, which happens to be the focus of the kitchen. So, perhaps, this isn’t a fair review. However, the other menu items were less than impressive. Josh ordered the four cheese lasagna, which he actively didn’t like and described as just over-cooked pasta with large clumps of cheese baked in. My meal was much less of a disaster as I chose to eat ‘light’ and order the Bruschetta and a Caprese salad. The bruschetta was actually very tasty – the peasant bread was soft on the side and crispy on the crust – and it came with marinated red peppers and goat cheese, two ingredients that are hard to mess up. The mozzarella on the Caprese was creamy and flavorful, however the tomatoes were a bit tired.

Either way, we were impressed by the extensive and extremely well-priced wine list. For under $35, we got a crisp Cabernet Sauvignon served at the perfect slightly cool temperature.

The service was the restaurant’s real downfall – or at least our waitress was. She didn’t speak English, or Italian for that matter. We had to point to everything on the menu for her to understand and repeat ourselves numerous times for various other requests. Frustrating, to say the least. With the exception of the food coming out of the kitchen, the service was very slow, too slow.

La Lanterna di Vittorio wasn’t a disaster, but it certainly wasn’t excellent. I plan on coming back to try their thin-crust pizza and to give it another chance. For a quick and easy Italian meal, this is an affordable option – especially if you like dining in gardens!

La Lanterna di Vittorio on Urbanspoon

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