The word of mouth for Cafe Vinoteca had always been good. It's one of those places that's been there for years, you drive by it meaning to give it a try, and just never get around to it. So I figured I would schedule it for my Meetup group and we would all get to try it together.
We went on a Monday, which had some benefits. They have some pasta dinner specials on Mondays and Tuesdays. There's either an all-you-can-eat spaghetti bolognese or a build-your-own pasta selection. Other than that, I was disappointed at the very limited menu. The choices were small. For instance, I was really in the mood for a piccata and there was none. Neither was there a parmagiana, chicken or eggplant.
Foccacia was brought out and dipping sauce poured out on plates. I liked that it was the olive oil and balsamic with plenty of herbs mixed in. I was not that impressed with the foccacia though. It was plain and dry.
In the end, most of us opted between the two specials. I got the gnocchi with the bolognese sauce. The sauce was hearty, meaty, and full of flavor. It was not some wimpy, thin sauce that skimps on the meat like you get at some places. My portion of gnocchi was just right. You also got a small green salad and ice cream or spumoni with it.
We had been sat right in front of the dessert case. There was tiramisu, creme brulee, banana cream pie and cheesecake. None of them looked appetizing. Sad. If you are going to display your desserts, they ought to be mouthwatering.
As for service, there was quite a complicated dispute/misunderstanding on the bill that I won't really go into - too long a story. Suffice it to say, we figure the way the waiter messed with it managed to get him an extra set of tips from us. But this came from having a whole than semi-splitting the bill. Firmly set down in advance how you want your bill handled.
All in all I'd say it was OK. The specials were a great value for both money and quality. I figure that I will have to give them another chance and try an entree next time. But with so many restaurants in town, the likelihood that I'll come back around to them is small.