Solid, but unspectacular.
Maybe I'm spoiled. Growing up in the Boston area, I was always spoiled by the North End and the Italian eateries in that area. When I lived in the area, I would look for the place that looked like the biggest dive and go in. The best place I have ever eaten Italian in was a little sea foam green two story house, total mom & pop outfit with plastic table cloths and Sinatra posters on the wall. I was hoping Mondo's being tucked in that shopping center would live up to that standard.
It was good, but I've definitely had better. The bread is good, but I'd rather have the bread at EVO or Amalfi's. I usually test an Italian place by their spaghetti and meatballs. It's a bread and butter dish, you either do it well or you don't. Mondo's was "meh". The meat mixture is fine. The beef, veal and pork combo is pretty standard. It was the texture that killed me. It was all so fine that all I could think of was that they put the meat in the food processor and then formed it. Pasta was cooked just fine, but that is cardinal sin to screw up. The problem was that there was so damn much of it. Just complete carb overkill. The red sauce is good. A good sauce can make up for a league average meatball, and frankly this sauce just didn't do that.
Not to mention that the place is a cavern. It is tremendously loud in there, which wasn't necessarily bad considering there were 8 in my party (with two kids under 5). But I couldn't imagine going there on date night without a megaphone. I would go back to give it another shot (it wasn't so bad that it doesn't warrant another chance), but I would prefer someone else pay this time.
when Lombardis opened on Jim Isle, I was ecstatic; a red sauce Italian restaurant right on the island. I so desperately wanted to like it, I went three times. Sorry, even with the friendly owner checking each and every table at least twice during their service, the food just didn't cut it.
La Tabella is a different kettle of fish, (they really don't servce a kettle of fish). On my first visit, I tried the spaghetti with marinari sauce, figuring if they coudn't make red sauce, it will spare me another trip. If a place can't handle the basics, the rest of the menu would follow suit. Happily, they nailed it.
La Tabella offers a large menu that should have something for everyone.
I'll be going back soon.
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