Sunday, December 26, 2010
Caesar's is an old institution that opened its doors to San Franciscans in 1956. If it is traditional Italian cuisine you want and the famed San Francisco dish, Cioppino, Caesar's is the place to go.
I was finally able to try Caesar's when Enrique's sister, Chris and her husband, Russell took us to dinner here for Enrique birthday. Russell is second generation Italian. Caesar's is his Italian parents and "nonna's" (Italian for grandmother) restaurant of choice for family get togethers.
Chris whispered as we were sitting down, "you come here for the food and ambiance, not for the service." Sure enough, Caesar's is packed and loud with multi-generational families--mostly Italians but diverse enough with Asians and other non-Italian families. "Godfather "would have been happy to bring his la famiglia here.
If you want to practice your Italian, this is the place to do it. The place was loud with Italian dialects spoken all around us. Fiance's sis pointed out the staff who are from the old country who barely speak English but has been working at Caesar's for decades.
Caesar's is indeed old-school from the decor, immigrant restaurant staff and traditional Italian cuisine. The waiters wear black and white tux.
As much as I wanted to try the Cioppino, they were not serving it that night. Chris and Russell suggested that we go for the $35 Seven Course dinner. And for $35 per person, you will get plenty of delicious fare to get you stuffed:
1st Course: SALAD of lettuce, tomato and onionwith Italian dressing.
2nd Course: ANTIPASTI of calamari salad, garbanzo bean salad, grilled eggplant (caponata), cured ham, etc.
*The dishes were fresh and delicious. Future bro-in-law's told us his nonna made these dishes for the family every Sunday. I could dine on these small dishes alone! I could not stop eating the garbanzo bean salad, caponata and calamari salad.
3rd Course: A small dish of PASTA WITH MEAT SAUCE.
*I ate around the meat sauce since I am a pescetarian. I would say that the sauce was very flavorful and definitely NOT Chef Boyardee's!
4th Course: A delicious bowl of lite MINESTRONE SOUP.
5th Course: Choice of main dish.
*Enrique chose GRILLED LAMB CHOPS which he requested as well-done. It came to him medium rare. He said it was still delicious, not gamey and very tender.
*I had the GRILLED SEAFOOD PLATTER. My meal came with a skewer of plump prawns and very tender scallops with spinach and potatoes. As simple as my meal was, it was surprisingly very good! I had to take half of it home since I got stuffed from eating the antipasti,salad and soup.
6th Course: SPUMONI.
*You get to choose from their dessert menu but the spumoni ice cream was a great way to end this nice Italian dinner.
7th Course: COFFEE
Service was polite and not so bad. This was a leisurely dinner and you might have to flag your server down once in a while. They leave you alone but not forget about you. You will still get your water refilled and your dishes on time.
They even gave Enrique an amaretti flavored cheesecake with a candle in it for his birthday dessert. Rich and delish! The whole restaurant joined in when we sang "Happy Birthday."
I have traveled to Italy and have had the pleasure to eat well in Rome and the Umbrian region. Caesar's is indeed authentic, traditional and old school. The dishes are not as delicious as what I had in Italy but at Caesar's it is about tradition. The dishes were simple, fresh and light--not the heavy, cheesy, Italian-American that is standard in the US.
On our way out, Enrique's sister spotted BUGIE COOKIES for sale at the counter. She said their nonna made these Italian sweets. I grabbed a couple of boxes for $6 each and gave one to her as a thank you present for the nice dinner treat. Bugies I found out later are fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar. Delicious but not diet food!
FOODIE GIRL'S RATING: 3 Stars
0 Star: Never again!!! These people should not be in business.
1 Star: Chalk it to bad experience. Live and learn.
2 Stars: Very disappointing but there it has some good things to offer.
3 Stars: It is okay but do not expect much. I will still return.
4 Stars: I like it! I will be singing your praises!
5 Stars: I will be dreaming of you at night!
6 Stars: Perfection (or close to!)