Being that time of the year the girlfriend and I headed out for what we hoped to be a lovely Valentine's Day dinner. Luckily with the help of an intelligently placed dinner reservation on the Friday before Valentine's Day we made the evening as enjoyable and stress free as possible. Our destination on this culinary journey? Matteo's Ristorante Italiano in Noblesville.
Now it's a little unusual to say this, but whenever I think of Matteo's I'm always reminded a little of the Tardis from Dr. Who. Matteo's from the outside looks like a small quaint little restaurant. Certainly not that impressive visually from the street. However, once you go inside you'll realize why I thought this to be a nice romantic Valentine's Day choice. The colors are warm and inviting, each table is decked out with a lovely setting with a candle included, the dining room is expansive with a very tall ceiling but it still feels intimate. Soft music serenades you in the background while you dine. To me, part of enjoying the restaurant is enjoying the experience along with the food and Matteo's certainly has a leg up in that department.
We were seated promptly after arrival. Even though we had a reservation it was nice to see it was held properly. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, "Anybody can just take 'em!" When we sat down we were greeted by our attentive server who took our drink orders and gave us some freshly baked bread an oil. The bread is phenomenal. It is served warm right out of the oven, and it has that perfect combination of crusty outside and soft inside. The oil is an olive oil with a nice mix of herbs and spices. It has a little heat but not too much. At most places I would prefer butter for my bread, but there is something about the oil and spices at Matteo's that makes it just that much better.
The last couple of times I had been to Matteo's I had ordered pasta dishes and had enjoyed each one, but I thought in the interest of food bloggery and my own enjoyment I'd step out on a bit of a limb here and go with Matteo's twist on Chicken Marsala that they call Pollo Amore. It is two chicken breasts sauteed in a Marsala wine sauce with mushrooms and cream then topped with a thin layer of prosciutto and mozzarella cheese served over rice pilaf. I also ordered a side dish of what Matteo's calls panzerotti, but what actually amounts to flash fried potato cakes served with a side of marinara.
I had reservations about getting the panzerotti when I ordered it because I had a feeling it might be a throwaway dish. However, I thought it would be a nice functioning appetizer for us and I thought it would be seasoned well. Unfortunately my first inclinations were correct. It was little more than bland fried potato balls served with red dipping sauce. If it weren't for the sauce they would have had no flavor at all. This is too bad because I think with a little more salt and herbs this could be a simple yet still tasty dish. Now, on to the main course.
I quickly forgot about anything else I had ordered as soon as I laid eyes on my Pollo Amore. A healthy portion of chicken breasts covered in everything that is good in the world. The sauce had a perfectly creamy texture and just a hint of the bit left over from the wine that cut the richness nicely. The mushrooms added a great earthiness and texture to the dish. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked and the prosciutto on top was the perfect element of saltiness. I couldn't get over how well the flavors both stood out individually and also made a complete coherent dish. I even enjoyed the rice which is usually something I barely even notice when I get anything that comes with pilaf. I could have this dish again a million times and still be happy.
Taste: 9.5/10 Almost a perfect meal. Half point deduction for the potato cakes. I should have stuck to ordering what they do best, but "panzerotti" didn't have to be bland.
Value: 8.5/10 We paid 60 dollars including tip for 2 entrees and a side and 2 Diet Cokes. We aren't much for wine and I wasn't feeling a cocktail that night. If you do add booze it will add quite a bit to your bill. Still I've paid a lot more for meals I have liked much much less.
P.S. I apologize if some of the pictures are a little hard to make out. It was a little on the dark side inside the restaurant.
The idea for this blog is to blog about everything I think about food and food culture. I'll tell you what I like to eat, where I like to eat it and if I thought it was good or if I thought it was crap. My thoughts about food could go anywhere. Hey if you don't like it go blog at methodicaldudereallythinksalotaboutthefoodhesgoingtoeat.blogspot.com