So just a couple weeks ago was my third anniversary with Shirley. We decided to make it a throwback night, to the days when we would wander downtown and pick some random place to eat at.
We couldn't quite help ourselves about looking up a few places, but I swear we didn't call ahead! We walked up Main Street past the lovely Stab n' Grab, and found ourselves by Manuel's Vintage Room. Manuel's took the place of Pio's Pasta Company, and I didn't see too much difference between the two on my first impression.
But anyways, here's my review:
Excellent. Taking a date for some Italian? Seriously, go here. Small, intimate, dim lighting. Can be a bit loud when there's groups, but it's not too bad. KItchen is slightly open, so there's something to look at.
Impressive. The waitress we had displayed a good mix of being knowledgeable and efficient while still being friendly. Food came out at a good pace, drinks were kept full, and we had a good time.
I wasn't sure to put this under service or atmosphere, but if you come during dinner you may actually see Manuel. When we walked in, he was eating his dinner in front of the kitchen, pausing a few times to get up and see how everyone in the restaurant was doing. Some might find that annoying, I found it pretty cool. Another bonus for me.
The wine list has a decent amount of choices, but as is par for the course, everything is just too expensive to justify. I won't hold it against them, as I haven't found a place that's any better about it in Gainesville.
The menu consists of soup, salad, starters, pasta, and entrees. Fairly standard fare. The pasta is a 'create your own' deal. Normally I'm not a big fan of this, as I think it's the restaurants job to tell me what the best they have to offer is. But the waitress was good with recommending something for us, so it wasn't a big deal.
The entrees are mostly beef, veal, or fish options.
Overall, I felt the menu was balanced and offered a variety that anyone could enjoy. I find myself wanting to go back to try some things I didn't have a chance to sample.
To start the meal, we ordered 'Snails'. I guess they didn't want to call it escargot, but they prepared it very well anyways. Good texture, good amount of garlic and seasoning, very enjoyable.
For our entrees, we split one of the create your own pastas and the cognac grouper.
The pasta was served with a pesto that was very tasty, if a bit heavy on the cream.
The grouper was cooked excellently, and the sauce was delicious.
The meal was a very reasonable portion.
Moderately pricey. Appetizers go from 6-10$, Entrees from 15-20$
The intimate atmosphere, friendly service, and the good food won me over. Definitely worth a try.