October 9, 2012

Ulivo is Up First in "The Nana Test"

Bucatini all'Amatriciana
Our recent visit to Italian BYOB Ulivo was good timing, as we just launched a series of reviews according to "The Nana Test" - a set of criteria that compares local Italian restaurant experiences to traditional Italian dinners with the family at grandma's house. Each item is rated on a 5-point scale, with 5 being the best.

Keep in mind that Ulivo's menu changes seasonally, so we had the Fall 2012 menu. If you go another time of year, some things may be different.

Here is how Ulivo fared in The Nana Test:

Atmosphere: Ulivo has a modern, urban feel. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in a ton of natural evening light and make you feel like part of the bustling Queen Village neighborhood. We dined on a Tuesday so it was less than half full, but the waitress recommended reservations on weekends. Three tables actually had small children and fit right in on a weeknight. We agreed Ulivo would be good for a date or dinner with friends to shake off the stress of a long week. 4 out of 5 points.

Ricotta Gnocchi
The Sauce: We tried multiple pastas and each came with stellar sauce. Bradd's favorite, the ricotta gnocchi, which literally melted in our mouths, was served over the most traditional red sauce of tomato, basil and pecorino. We could have housed about twice as much of it.

The bucatini all'amatriciana had just the right subtle kick of red pepper flakes. Both it and the gnocchi could have come with more sauce. 4/5

Pumpkin-Chard Angilotti
Simplicity: You won't find basic spaghetti and meatballs here but can get the simple gnocchi and bucatini dishes that don't disappoint. Even Kristy's favorite, the pumpkin-chard angilotti with rye butter and crumbled ginger snap on top sounds complicated, but with just those few ingredients it was still kept simple and perfect for Fall. 4/5

Antipasti: Ulivo's starter menu did not have a traditional antipasti dish. We ordered the coppa and figs app on a bed of arugula, pistachio and mustard oil but it was a bit forgettable. We're not sure there were actually any figs. The fried calamari is a good choice, though ask for extra of the calabrian chili-taragon rosa sauce because there's only a little bit spread on the plate. 3/5

Pork Saltimbocca
Serving size and bread: A nice perk to dining at Ulivo is that you can order any of the six pasta dishes in full or half sizes. It was a treat to try three small portions at reasonable prices and they were all delicious.

Our entree, the pork saltimbocca, was a healthy serving for us to share. It comes with a broiled, crusty top layer and absolutely awesome creamed corn polenta underneath. Get the polenta as a side, if offered. You won't regret it. Ulivo's herbed and airy foccacia bread was satisfying as well. 4/5

Sambuca test: Our final test for any Italian BYOB was insisted upon by Bradd's Italian relatives: when you order espresso at the end (as all good Italians do), does the restaurant also have an aperitif like sambuca to go along with it? Lucky for Ulivo, they did! The kitchen also made a delicious cheesecake that night with limoncello. +1 bonus point

One extra note: Ulivo gets an "A" for service. Our waitress, Alice, was extremely knowledgeable about the dishes and helped us confidently choose our food. Later, someone in the restaurant choked on her food, which could happen anywhere, and the staff was very attentive. Good job. Safety first!

Ulivo scored 20 out of a possible 25 points in The Nana Test, including one bonus point for offering sambuca. Overall, we really enjoyed our dinner at Ulivo and would recommend it to others, especially for the pastas and a pleasant night out.

[As a disclaimer, CityEats.com covered about half of our meal as part of a promotion and is sponsoring a related contest on our blog that you'll find out about in a few days. We promise this was our honest take and that you'll like the contest!]

Ulivo on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Jules said...

Love the sambuca test!