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Grappa '72

Grappa Front

Grappa '72 is located at 818 Central Avenue, inside a strip mall next to the Hannaford strip mall, across the street from West Gate Plaza strip mall. You would almost not notice there's a fine dining establishment among all the strip malls, but this place is one that shouldn't be passed by.

I'd been dying to review this place, having heard about it often. So I enlisted the company of a couple of foodie friends of mine.

I arrived a few minutes early. When I walked in, a gentleman (who - based on later conversation - I believe was a manager) greeted me, before confirming my reservation and asked if I wanted to proceed to the table, or wait for the rest of my party. After I opted to wait, he then asked if I wanted anything to drink while waiting. Not only did he get my drink personally, but he sat me at an unoccupied 2-top while I waited for the rest of my party. Now that's service above and beyond, in my opinion.

My party arrived soon after, and we were immediately seated (after accepting the offer of having our coats hung). Grappa '72 makes fine dining comfortable. Everything from the warm decor, to the friendly service, and attention to creature comfort details speaks to an environment that's very welcoming.

Our server was also quite entertaining. She employed a somewhat Thespian tone in explaining their specials. There were soft, yet dramatic pauses and everything was said with a smile. Think similar to William Shatner, but wayyyyy better.

Now on to the food! We started with the Calamari appetizer, that came with a yogurt based sauce. One dining companion ordered the Osso Bucco entree which came over a bed of (Saffron) Rissotto Milanese, her hubby ordered the Vitello Mare Monti entree (veal, shrimp, and mushrooms in a light spicy tomato sauce), and I ordered the Vitello alla '72 entree (veal, basil, tomatoes, in a vodka Taleggio sauce over parmesean risotto).

Bread was served within minutes of giving our dinner order. While the bread wasn't warm, it was a wonderful texture; just the right mix of firm and soft. The olive tapanade was delish. There's oil and balsamic on the table, but no dish to mix it in. I asked for one (which I think should come as part of the package) and was provided a small plate straight away.

The calamari came out piping and hot were cooked perfectly. They were tender, had just the right amount of batter, and weren't greasy in the least. The critiques are two fold. The outside could've used a touch more seasoning. There was some salt and pepper, but it could've used more. The largest critique is that the yogurt sauce did absolutely nothing to compliment the dish. If anything, it took away from the dish. The calamari would've been better served with a remoulade, or no sauce at all.

For entrees I'll start with the osso bucco. My dining companion loved her dish, and I agree (having tasted a few bites of it myself). The veal was wonderfully tender, and the risotto was cooked perfectly. While I believe the veal could've used more seasoning, she was fine with it as is. One real detractor was the almost severe level of saffron in the risotto. There was an overpowering aftertaste that I couldn't quite put my finger on. After some deliberation, we determined the saffron was the culprit.

My other dining companion (her husband) enjoyed his Vitello Mare Monti. The veal was cooked perfectly, as were the accompanying carrots (it should be noted that carrots were not listed on the menu as coming with the dish). He did comment that the sauce lacked distinguishing flavor. It sort of fell flat, and didn't register as being lightly spicy at all. After a couple of tastes, I agree. Perfectly cooked, but needing more flavor.

My dish was consistent with the rest. Perfectly cooked veal and asparagus (which wasn't on the menu as an accompaniment). The sauce was smooth, and creamy but aside from the hint of cheesyness, there was an absolute lack of distinguishing flavor. Salt and pepper would've worked wonders.

Grappa earns a solid 4 forks. Everything was perfectly cooked, the flavor just needed more (or less in the case of the saffron). Towards the end (the check receiving portion of the meal) service dipped a little bit, but I think it was only noticeable because we were too full to continue eating, and were ready to conclude our visit.

Grappa '72 will definitely get a second (and maybe third and fourth) visit. I'm intrigued about the rest of their menu. I wonder if they make their own pasta....

Grappa 1 Grappa 2
Osso Bucco Vitello alla '72
Grappa 3