Thursday, May 11, 2017
It's an Italian restaurant, long in existence. Arturo Gismondi began serving his homemade dishes in 1983, and his children and grandchildren continue the tradition today. We had dinner on the main floor, the one with the piano. We'll get to that. Our waiter and his assistants brought out the food on those multi-level carts, real old school. If you order a slice of pie, the server will grab the entire thing from the cart and carve it right there.
The food was good. Very good. I had the Caloppina di Vitello alla Francese, battered veal in a white wine sauce. The others all voiced similar approval for their selections. The Coda d'Aragosta alla Fiorentina - very large shrimp accompanied by clams and mussels - looked scrumptious. Honestly, I like the cuisine at Trattoria Romana in east Boca a bit more, but Arturo's menu is still prime. The atmosphere is very elegant; the restaurant was built to resemble a Tuscan villa. You can have a small party downstairs, in the wine cellar.
Back on the main floor, the night really got entertaining once the piano man was rolling. Renditions of Sinatra and Dino made up most of the set list. Wait, no Rosemary Clooney? No Pat Cooper? One of the hosts began belting out all the expected sentimental chestnuts. Many diners that night were of age. They couldn't help but get up and dance in the small area in front of the baby grand. A bit awkward, as servers have to pass through there to get to the tables, but it's all part of the family feeling. The singing ranged from agreeable to downright cheesy. The same could be said of the dancing.
Much of that was courtesy of a gentleman named Giovanni. He got out there and tripped the light, well, you know. No matter that he was Greek. He even threw down a few (plastic) plates. He motioned to a few younger ladies, including my wife, to join him! Then, pop hits old and new drew a few more wallflowers. Good times.
But before this giddiness, Giovanni attempted to fire up some bananas foster. It took two efforts, as he was perhaps foolishly multi-tasking - delivering orders to other tables and every so often watching his project, trying not to burn the place down. He did indeed scorch the first plate. When he attempted to use the same one again, our party balked. His reaction was best described as disbelief. His WTF stare was icy. It was awkward there for a minute or two. Oddly hilarious, too. But really, so was the entire night.
During Giovanni's dark cloud moment I was reminded of an unfavorable review I saw online: "The owner has no customer service skills and neither does the waiter." I disagree, but I do appreciate the family style, even if you get the occasional dirty look.
6750 North Federal Highway
Boca Raton, FL 33487