Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mona Lisa of Newtown

Mona Lisa Menu
“MONA LISAAAA!” I can see Nat King Cole smiling as he sings the song. Imagine what would happen if he or Leonardo Da Vinci got kickbacks every time Mona Lisa was used. Big, big money.

An old coworker of MG’s was in town. We were meeting up with her and a few other friends. One of them decided upon Mona Lisa.

Basket of Bread
What you have here is your standard basket of bread. Nothing special, right? Except, what it that stuff at the forefront of the photo? Well, I was told that it was Mona Lisa’s special spread. It is some combination of olives, garlic, oil, and some other spices. Usually, I can’t stand olives, but I really liked this spread. It’s very nice, in small doses, not terribly salty, and possessing a rich complex flavor. It may not be as cool as spreading marrow on toast, but it was definitely worthwhile.

Special Bread Spread
Here’s a closer look at the special blend.

Fried Mozzarella
The Fried Mozzarella was as advertised, a big hunk of fried mozzarella. This was pretty great. The cheese was fresh and not too salty. Though it stretched, it wasn’t too stringy. It wasn’t too hefty or too light. If you a fried cheese fan, definitely order this offering.

Fried Calamari
The Fried Calamari was wonderful, very fresh, very light. Superb! The breading wasn’t too heavy and didn’t retain any of the frying oil. It was the way the dish should be served. Big thumbs up.

What was very interesting was the dipping sauces served alongside the squid. One was the usual marinara sauce. The other was some form of honey based dish. It wasn’t a honey mustard, maybe it wasn’t, I don’t know. They was some honey and something else. I actually preferred it to the marinara. Different, but very complimentary to the calamari.

Fried Cherry Peppers
I got a side of fried cheery peppers with the calamari. They were fried cherry peppers, nothing special. They had some tang and some heat, just what was needed between bits of squidy goodness.

Penne Vodka
One of MG’s friends got the Penne Vodka. I didn’t try it, but she said that it was a usual order whenever she dined at the restaurant.

Chicken Dish
MG got some form of chicken dish. There were plenty of mixed vegetables and a nice smattering of rice on the side. She enjoyed it.

Salmon Dish
I got the salmon dish that was a special. The portion was nice, but the salmon was a little overcooked. The crabmeat atop the fish was not enjoyable at all. The seasoning was nice, but the texture (due to a little to much time on the heat) was off. Perhaps it was just a one off mistake. Considering how good the calamari was, I would give them another shot. Just one though.

Double Chocolate Gelato
The ladies had some Double Chocolate Gelato for dessert. They loved it. I found the mixture of sweet and bittersweet chocolate an unpleasant combination. They liked the mingling of flavors, I thought it was too much for a single dish.

The service is very prompt, and the d├ęcor is lovely. Mona Lisa is a fine place for a night out, whether formal or casual. The calamari is a must-order, but proceed with caution when it comes to fish.

Mona Lisa of Newtown
160 South Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470
203-426-6685
(Google Map)

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Puerto Vallarta

Logo on Menu
MG has been going to Puerto Vallarta for a long time. She has taken many people there and was happy to finally bring me by the location in Orange, CT.

Orange CT Location
As you can see from the picture above, this particular outpost has the traditional Tex-Mex look. Though recently built, it looks as though it has been constructed from adobe. We went on a Friday night, and it was around the dinner hour, so plenty of people were beginning to trickle inside. There were some people that were stumbling out after happy hour, seemingly a popular time, but many families were starting to arrive concurrent with us. The weather was pretty mild, so we ended up sitting on the outside deck.

Mango Margarita
MG recommended the drinks very highly. She said that Puerto Vallarta did not skimp on the alcohol. Instead of their standard margarita, I tried a Mango Margarita. MG was correct. They did not skimp on the booze.

Cadillac Margarita
MG opted for the Cadillac Margarita. It’s made from 1800 tequila, triple sec, mix, and a splash of Grand Marnier. It was pretty smooth. Once again, they were not stingy with the liquor.

Complimentary Nachos
The complimentary nachos were pretty good. Thin and crisp, they might have been freshly made, but didn’t taste especially great, but definitely not bad.

Salsa
The salsa was nice, not terribly chunky, and had a bit of kick.

Chicken Mole Acapulco
Every Mexican restaurant menu has tacos, burritos, quesedillas, etc… Some places have a mole dish listed. This Purto Vallarta had at least three moles. I was impressed. The dish was called Chicken Mole Acapulco. I suppose this is the dish that most places would considered a standard mole. It was a mixture of chocolate, nuts, chili, and whatever other magical ingredients usually go into a mole.

This would not make a list of my favorite moles of all time, but it was pretty good. It was rich and nutty, without any flavor dominating the sauce. I think it could have used a little more chili. It was very savory, had a nice thick texture, and it is something I could definitely recommend. This chicken was well cooked and tender. Puerto Vallarta cuts the chicken incredibly thin so that it will cook quickly. They don’t skimp on the chicken, but the thin cuts take something away from the dish. It is not possible to get a nice meaty forkful of poultry, and the mole sauce almost overwhelms the chicken due to its width.

The rice is fine, but nothing special. The refried beans are pretty dull.

Carne Asada
MG had the Carne Asada. Like the chicken, the beef is cut very thin and quickly seared. It came out very tender and tasty, but again since the meat is cut so thin, it almost gets overwhelmed by anything that accompanies it on the plate.

Side of Black Beans
MG is not a fan of refried beans, so she asked for a side of black beans. It was a side of black beans, nothing more, nothing less.

There was a mixup when ordering. Puerto Vallarta has a number of different quesedilla dishes on the menu. MG asked about the type of beef in one of them. When she was told, she said, “I’ll have the Carne Asada one.” As evident in the picture above, she ended up getting the Carne Asada platter. The waiter was pleasant when the problem was called to his attention. MG also acknowledged that she may have been unclear. While the waiter was pleasant, he did not appear very ready to replace the dish. I can’t really fault him, since MG was fine with accepting the dish that was brought, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had she insisted on a new dish.

Puerto Vallarta is a better than average Mexican restaurant, but not amazing. The drinks are very good, and outdoor seating is plentiful for those that like to pickle outside after work.

Puerto Vallarta
377 Boston Post Road
Orange, CT 06477
203-799-9977
(Google Map)