This week is Restaurant Week in Cincinnati and several downtown restaurants are taking part with special menus and good value combination. We are going to at least three, in part because of this promotion but also other influences, such as the arrival tomorrow of our Grandson from LA.
Monday night we went with a friend to "Nicola's" 1420 Sycamore St. 45202 513-721-6200, possibly the best Italian Restaurant in the area. Every Monday night "Nicola's runs an unbelievable "special". For $13 one receives a large bread basket, including bite sized Bruschetta, Italian bread stick, Focaccia etc. Next a nice sized salad, greens and sliced tomato's and a full portion of pasta with the wonderful house made Bolognese. If someone stopped there and augmented in no way it would be a great dinner at an unbelievable price, however, how would "Nicola's" survive. So out of the "milk (or wine) of human kindness the tree of us added drinks, a very good Volpolicella and a smooth Barbera plus an outstanding Lettuce Soup, about both the proprietor and the server raved. They were not mistaken. The lettuce Soup was a Green Gazpacho, like, pureed cold soup made with a base of Romaine, Arugula and Spinach, with kernels of white, sweet corn, pearl onion and stock added. Shredded Blue Crab and a few coarsely ground croutons were floated on the surface. The total effect was amazing. The total cost for the evening was $33/person, a bit different from the $13 special but a wonderful meal. Incidentally, but not unimportant our server was excellent, through out the evening.
The next night we went, with another couple, to "Via Vite" (same ownership as "Nicola's) 520 Vine St, Fountain Square, 45202 (513)721-8483. Their special was unbelievable, a 3 course dinner for $35/couple($17.50 each). There were 2 items in each category, starters, pastas and meat or fish course, and each of the couple, sharing the meal, could choose which they wanted. After my Bombay, I had a wonderful tomato based, pureed, Gazpacho, again with some crab in the center, a good sized portion of potato Gnocchi in a quite rich Vodka Sauce and for my 3rd course, a small pork tenderloin served on a bed of sauteed onions, pepper and tomato's, seasoned perfectly to compliment the pork.
So now you have my report on the first two nights of "Cincinnati restaurant week.