Gazette RESTAURANT Of The WEEK
C onstantly striving to reinvent his fine cuisine to offer something new to his loyal patrons, Amici Amore and Butcher Brothers Steakhouse chef and owner Dino Redzic, who also runs several successful restaurants in Naples, Florida, has replaced both popular venues with Momento Italian Bistro. Located on the same corner of Newtown Road and 29th Street,
to welcome diners to an affordable buffet lunch and table service dinner, seven days a week.
You'll want to spend much more than a moment to savor the fine Italian cuisine and wines at Momento Italian Bistro. On the night we visited we were treated to a wonderful five-course Wine Tasting Dinner, featuring some of the menu's most popular items. Each course was accompanied by a different wine chosen to complement each dish perfectly. Sommelier, wine merchant and instructor Elmer Contreras was on hand to explain the origins or "appellation" of each and every wine. So exceptional is the wine cellar at Momento it is being considered for an award by Wine Spectator Magazine.
Start with a bowl of steamed New Zealand mussels swimming in a garlicky tomato sauce or crisp fried calamari rings with spicy marinara sauce ($7.50). Appetizers include carpaccio di manzo, thinly sliced raw beef that melts on the tongue and topped with capers, onion and shaved Parmigiano cheese. Pan seared ahi tuna is rubbed with black pepper and mustard and served rare on a bed of mixed greens with a delightful sweet and sour sauce that provides a nice counterpoint to the pepper. Momento's chef tops little rounds of toasted bread called crostini with either chopped tomato, basil and goat cheese or white beans, onion and garlic. Order an assortment of both and share them with your dining companions. One of my favorite salads is the Momento salad, arugula, radicchio and endive tossed with sliced pears and sharp gorgonzola cheese ($7.50). A steaming bowl of pasta e fagioli soup tastes great on these still-chilly spring nights.
Entrees range from classic Italian restaurant fare such as house made lasagna, ravioli and chicken or eggplant parmigiana to more inventive duck with risotto. Rack of lamb was encrusted with herbs before exposed to the intense heat of the grill. The interlaced bones made an impressive presentation and the inside temperature was just perfect. A lovely Barolo wine was a fine accompaniment. Veal osso buco is another dish where Momento shines. Meaty veal shanks are braised then slow cooked for hours until the tender meat surrenders to a fork. Toothsome risotto along with the brown gravy from the pot accompanies this dish for a hearty and soul satisfying meal ($23.50). Each dish is executed with the freshest ingredients and beautifully presented with fresh herbs and delicate sauces as garnish.
The Redzic family has been in the butcher business for many generations. At their butcher shop on 30th Avenue, brother Argo uses centuries-old recipes to produce handmade sausages. At Momento, those sausages are incorporated into several dishes, including an appetizer of sausages finished with a cognac flambé. Orecchiete pasta that resembles little ears is served with broccoli rabe and sausage for one of my favorite dishes.
Fresh fish and seafood has a permanent place on the menu and is often featured as specials. Try the fresh Florida grouper with clams, mussels, white wine and a touch of tomato. Plump shrimp sautéed with garlic, olive oil and oregano rests on a mound of delicate linguini for a truly flavorful dish ($19.50). Grilled Atlantic salmon is served with vegetable ratatouille and sautéed spinach. It's so popular it also appears on the Early Bird menu.
Diners seated between 4 and 5:45 p.m. will be rewarded not only with the same freshly prepared cuisine, but also with a 40- 50 percent discount off the regular menu prices. In addition, two-for-one house wine and beer complement the dinners of those who enjoy fine Italian cuisine on a budget. Dino also welcomes you Monday to Friday to the fabulous $6.95 lunch buffet, which offers a mixed salad, a pasta dish, and a chicken or meat dish. The selections change each day, so you can visit often. Diners are not rushed at Momento Italian Bistro, either- you can eat at your own pace so you can get back to work when you need to.
Momento Italian Bistro has a charming room for private parties that holds 40 for a sit-down dinner under a unique chandelier custom made from wine bottles. The room also serves as Momento's wine cellar- hundreds of bottles of wine are stored along the walls, contributing to the feeling that you're dining in an Italian country vineyard. Momento's staff will be happy to ensure your next party will be a success with excellent off-premises catering as well. Besides Argo presiding at the butcher shop, brothers Johnny and Tony help out at Momento, serving delicious food and drinks at the nightly Happy Hour as well.
Visit Momento Italian Bistro for a lunch buffet you can't beat, a sumptuous, relaxing dinner, exceptional wines and a nightly Happy Hour. Visit their new Web site to download a very special offer that you won't want to miss. Live for the moment- eat at Momento Italian Bistro.