Grotto was one of the first recommendations I ever took off of Chowhound, and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. The meals are rich and flavorful, and it's clear that the chef is having fun with the plates. Usually when I go, reservations are made well ahead of time and there's a lot of anticipation... this time was much more spur-of-the-moment. After seeing Ratatouille, we were dying for really good food, and Grotto came to mind.
Knowing how rich the meals at Grotto can be, I opted for two appetizers. I started with the Gorganzola-stuffed figs and arugula salad. Now, I really don't like Gorganzola, or any pungent cheeses for that matter, but I love these figs. Stuffed with cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and baked, these figs are creamy, chewy, salty and sweet, all in one bite. The large arugula, parmesan, prosciutto salad was topped with a lovely toasted hazelnut vinaigrette, all of which balanced out the richness of the stuffed figs.
I also ordered a half portion of the ricotta cavatelle, mixed with fresh sausage, pancetta, peas and mushrooms in a thick cream sauce. When it arrived, the portion looked small, but by the end, I was quite happy that I had ordered the smaller size. The cavatelle are light and soft, and the rest of the flavors mix together so well that nothing is overpowering.
Grotto has a fixed-price, three-course dinner available every night. If you have a hearty appetite, it's a fantastic deal that includes appetizer, entree and dessert.
My favorite part of Grotto, though, is that every once in a while, they host Big Night dinners. If you've never seen the movie about two brothers preparing their restaurant for the biggest meal of their lives, you must rent it. Scott Herritt, Grotto's owner and chef, cooks all the courses of the Big Night meal, including the impressive timpano. It's an incredible amount of food with tons of different flavors, and it's a blast. If you're interested in events like this, you can sign up for Grotto's email list on their website.