On a recent beautiful late spring evening we met up at Nicola’s in the Old Market. The inside of the restaurant is extremely small, dark and noisy, so we were more than happy to fill in at a table on the open air patio
The waitress promptly took our drink orders (Stella Artois, Michelob Ultra, house Pinot Noir and Diet Coke). Strike one, no wine list or bar menu was offered. Ordering blind on the beverages. We were not informed of the soup of the day or any specials. Later, we overheard a different waiter being much more attentive. We apparently had the new guy.
After a quick perusal through the extensive menu, we all settled on our choices. We were served Italian side salads. While they were good, we were not overly impressed. The stems were left on the uncut, large lettuce leaves, which made it difficult to eat, and who wants to eat the stems! There was a nice variety of mixed greens with a rather sweet dressing on them. The salads came “pre-dressed” and Rick would have preferred more dressing on his.
Our meals were served next, each with a side of Bruschetta with our entrees. We all agreed that the Bruschetta might have paired better with the salads. The Bruschetta was fair. Thin, crisp slices of Italian bread brushed with plain olive oil. The tomatoes are “out of season” and rather pale and tasteless. There was slivers of basil on top, but sparse. The entire dish could have benefitted from flavorful balsamic vinegar. It was Bruschetta, but not particularly good Bruschetta.
Rick and Jim both chose the Chicken Marsala ($19). The chicken had good flavor, the pasta was ala dente’. The creamy Marsala sauce was missing the deep red wine flavor that is characteristic of Marsala. Both guys thought that the dish would have benefitted by a more generous portion of the sauce, as the noodles were rather dry. It was also noted that salt and pepper were not on the table and the dish could have benefited by a liberal shake of pepper.
Patty enjoyed the Cheese Stuffed Ravioli with Homemade meatballs and Homemade Ragu Sauce ($16). The Ravioli was good, stuffed with ricotta cheese. The red sauce was the traditional Italian thick and slightly sweet tomato based sauce. Meatballs were good and as expected. Patty commented that normally the waiter would have offered and added freshly grated Parmesan cheese at the moment of service.
Sarah ordered and enjoyed the Pollo e Verdue ($15) consisting of grilled chicken breast (tender and quite tasty) and the Chef’s selection of fresh vegetables sautéed to a perfect doneness. This was a great lighter meal, but also would have been improved with a grating of fresh Parmesan.
WE WISHED: The the waiter was better trained, and that the little things we mentioned about the food had been taken care of in the kitchen. We didn’t get our moneys worth.
Overall, the meals were decent but the waiter failed to perform and enhance our dining experience. Hopefully he is the new guy and doesn’t perform (or specifically not perform) at this level of service all the time.
Nicola’s has a nice menu listing antipasti, Panini, various soups and salads, a variety of pasta dishes and pizza. The ambiance on the outdoor patio makes up for some of the slights of the waiter.