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sole food: parma 8200

date: 7/20/10
location: bloomington

grade:c

meh.

someone wanted me to leave that up as the sum total of our experience at parma 8200. the post-cucina d'amico venues continue to not impress me much in any respect.

despite what many of the critic had during their 'free food' tour of the place, the food we got was not impressive- and some of it was the same food. i'm guessing that's a factor of ingredients. the "watermelon salad with sweet basil, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese" was very summery indeed, but this is a dish that with so few ingredients, each one has to be top-notch. the watermelon was not sweet enough to carry the rest of the flavors. plus not sure why they didn't say the sweet basil was in the form of pesto as a dressing, which i quite liked with the dish. i'm also not sure why they didn't list the red onion in it, it seemed random to leave it off.

was this a dish i could make easily at home for a fraction of the cost? yes. was what i got worth $9 it cost? no. i know restaurants have to make a profit, but most everything seemed overpriced for what you get on the plate. i would've happily paid $9.50 for the "fried sicilian rice balls with mozzarella and marinara" (another menu puzzle, why not just call them arancini and describe them?) off the appetizer menu had they been done with a tim mckee or doug flicker stlye of perfection.

what i got instead was inattention to detail. there were three too-large to pop in your mouth and eat as a whole, but fall apart when you cut them balls (tee-hee) that were stuffed with the cheese that needed a bit more melt in it and needed more seasoning. the best part of the dish was the marinara... which was a bit difficult to eat the excess of with the cheese-topped bread (good on it's own, hard to get some sauces with). so over $3 per rice ball for that? not worth it. if it were $6.50... maybe. (no happy hour pricing on the food, fyi.)

the "blue prawns baked with tomato, feta, garlic and calabrian chile oil" appetizer for $13.50 was probably the best dish overall of the lot (i'm judging from what the other person said, and a taste of the sauce), but the three prawns you get seemed not quite enough to justify that price point. nor did the "soft polenta with country pork ragu or bolognese ragu" side for $8.00 seem worth the cost. it was pretty good polenta (not a difficult dish to do at home) with a pretty scant tablespoon or two of ragu- lietrally. it didn't even cover the top.

the place was pretty empty when we sat down. i'm guessing they don't do open table bookings between 6:30-7 pm or so because that's when the place remained a bit cavernous- after that it filled up. and when that happened, service went from overly attentive to the point of creep-out to... where'd the server go? i do realize the place is kind of new, but taking around 45 minutes after they're ordered to get polenta and rice balls to the table isn't right.

as for decor, it's generic and masculine, with dark wood and heavy furniture. perhaps oddly, it didn't read 'italian' to me, it said 'i could be anywhere from a steakhouse to a sushi place.' i wonder if having the place in an office building had limitations. then again, the menu reflects a bit of a turn... like the hamburger, for instance. broad appeal is what they're going for.

so yeah... meh. it's not a place i'd avoid forever, but it's not a place i would choose to come to if given a voice in the decision. ultimately i'd rather either make a lot of what they have on the menu at home (most dishes are just not complicated or seasonal or anything) or get them someplace that'd so them right (luci, which may be the place place in the twin cities for italian, because most of it isn't that great).

which again, is what i feel about all current d'amico places

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