Thursday, March 13, 2008

Restaurant of the Weekend: Ponte Vecchio

Posted By on Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 8:03 AM

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Ponte Vecchio -- the setting is perfect for an out-of-town visitor this weekend. And the food keeps up.
Let’s raise a toast this weekend to the out-of-town visitor: Without her, we might have forgotten about the stunning view at Ponte Vecchio (2100 Superior Viaduct), the uniquely situated ristorante on the stub of the old Superior Viaduct bridge. Our guest’s arrival proved an inspiration: Find a restaurant to satisfy her tastebuds while showing off our city to its best advantage. ... Sure, that gorgeous lakefront standby, Pier W, could have been an option – but our guest wasn’t big on seafood. And while we adore the urban vista beyond the windows of XO Prime Steaks, our guest wasn’t in the mood for beef, either. Finally, she decided she could go for pasta – and the rest was a no-brainer. Dinner at Ponte Vecchio not only gave us a chance to enjoy the spectacular view of the downtown skyline, stretching from the Terminal Tower, across the West Bank of the Flats, and on to Lake Erie, but also showed off the tasty stylings of chef Wyatt Grace. So it was that the evening found us settled in at one of the restaurant’s granite-topped tables, where we drank in a world of soaring architecture and sparkling lights, perhaps best exemplified by the graceful contours of the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, shimmering beneath its nightly wash of blue light. It made a killer backdrop for warm bread, dipping oil, and a shared starter of bresaola (thinly sliced, air-dried beef, topped with shaved Reggiano, and drizzled with lemon-infused oil, $13); followed by a couple of well-prepared pastas – firm but tender gnocchi, tossed with walnuts and caramelized pear, in a sleek Gorgonzola cream sauce ($21), and al dente rigatoni, tossed topped with peas, prosciutto, and an entire garden’s worth of sundried tomato slices ($19). Other good-sounding pasta-bilities for a weekend night included gemelli tossed with duck confit, cranberries, and Roman beans ($26), asparagus-mascarpone ravioli with smoked salmon ($23), and wild mushroom ravioli with Marsala sauce and a drizzle of truffle oil ($22). Most pastas are also available as half orders, with commensurate prices. Had we been feeling more carnivorous, of course, we also could have considered options like sunflower-seed crusted salmon, poached grouper, braised beef shortribs, or roasted Australian lamb. Attentive service and a full bar, featuring both a martini menu and an interesting international wine list, added to the enjoyment. The only less-than-impressive aspect was the dearth of fellow diners: At 7:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, we had the place mostly to ourselves. But if you go this or any weekend, you might find a little buzz to accompany your buzz. Clearly, we need to entertain more often. Still, whether or not you’ve got out-of-towners to impress, this should be a great weekend to get an eyeful at pretty Ponte Vecchio. Reservations are available online or by calling 216-556-8200. To read our full review from December 2004, click here. --- Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at clevescene.com.

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