[Sidebar] November 20 - 27, 1997
[Food Reviews]
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Atwood Grill

A simple combination: good food at great prices

by Dawn Keable

1413 Atwood Avenue,
Open Mon - Thurs from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Fri and Sat from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Sun from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Major credit cards
Sidewalk-level access

I think our slapstick grand entrance at the Atwood Grill was a great hit with the other diners. It was my fault, really. I was the first to mistake the well-dressed elderly gentleman standing in the center of the dining room as the host. And when he motioned impatiently in our direction (twice), my boyfriend Andre was only obediently following me to what we thought was our freshly bused table. I guess we would have made some new friends had I not seen the man's dining companion breezing by us at the last minute. Now where had she been hiding?

The Atwood Grill was packed for a Thursday night, and we were seated (by ourselves, thank you) smack in the middle of the action. Fortunately, the family next to us was just finishing up. The tables were so close, I feared the rambunctious tyke behind me was about to reach right over me and help himself to my silverware for the marching band he was assembling from his highchair.

Other than the crowded table seating in the center, the restaurant was very open. Crisp white walls and windows along the perimeter helped create an illusion of space, while framed black-and-white pictures and hanging dried flower arrangements added a homey feel. The background music was a thoughtful mix to appeal to a wide range of patrons.

The menu was loaded with Italian specialities, and while we decided on a selection, the real hostess stealthily added a basket of fresh Italian bread to our table. She was so careful not to disturb us that Andre asked me if the bread had been there when we sat down.

We started with an order of bruschetta ($4.95). The two generous slices of crusty bread were topped with chunks of tomato, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and shredded Mozzarella cheese. The appetizer had been perfectly prepared, and every bite was absolutely delicious.

Seconds after we finished, our waitress cleared our dishes and brought us a huge bowl of salad that was included with our meals. The tossed salad was served family-style in a large community bowl. I quickly picked out all of the black olives to garnish my own plate, but Andre still had plenty of healthy ingredients to make a well-rounded salad of his own: mixed greens, shredded carrots, onions, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers.

For his main course, Andre picked chicken marsala ($8.95). The serving platter was so full of chicken, the accompanying corn and mashed potatoes had to come out on plates of their own. The moist chicken, served with portobella and domestic mushrooms, was covered in a thick, dark marsala gravy -- a perfect blend that complimented the meat without overpowering it. Unfortunately, Andre's side of potatoes didn't fare as well. He thinks they were, gulp, instant.

I chose penne in a pesto cream sauce ($6.25). I'd had a choice of three other pastas, but this one seemed by far the easiest to eat. The penne was cooked to a perfect al dente firmness, then tossed in a robust sauce of homemade pesto, cream, and Romano cheese. The dish was amazingly flavorful and aromatic for such a simple combination.

For dessert, the tray was filled with many yummy possibilities, but Andre only took seconds to make up his mind. One look at the Oreo cheesecake ($2.50), and his childhood obsessions with the creamy center began to resurface. The fantastic cheesecake had a chocolatey Oreo cookie bottom, and the cake was topped with crumbled pieces of cookie and centers.

I went with a piece of tiramisu ($3.50). Sliced in a generous square, the alternating layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers and thick cream were extremely light and fluffy. This dessert was so delicate, I didn't even feel like I was overindulging.

After paying the inexpensive bill (we got an awful lot of food for our money), we made our exit. Thankfully, it was uneventful. I think we could even visit again, as long as that same hostess always works the dinner shift . . . and the lunch shift . . . and breakfast on Sundays.

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