I have to confess that I never have eaten at Da Mario up until now because the front facade scared me. From the time I used to live in Coquitlam (10 years ago) until now, every time I passed by, I assumed it was closed. Frankly, I don't understand why they don't try to spruce it up with a new coat of paint or a new awning. However, I was told that the inside is much nicer than the outside. Tonight, we met up with Wolvie and Italian Stallion for an early dinner. The interior of Da Mario was indeed a lot more inviting than the outside. We brought the kiddies as well and prepared to suffer the consequences of doing so. The place was actually quite nice and thoughts of my kids hitting the wine glasses with their cutlery made me cringe. Serves us right for teaching them to do so at the countless weddings we've been to! I guess we'll see how they did... As if it was meant to be, we got one of the few window seats. I'm not sure if Wolvie mentioned so in making the reservation; but it worked out for me!
My first thought when I opened the menu was that it was everything was relatively inexpensive, especially the pastas. Taking into consideration that Da Mario is in the Entertainment book, a meal here can ultimately be quite cheap. I decided to get the Linguine alla Vongole or linguine with clams. I gotta say, when it arrived, I was surprised at the portion size. It was much bigger than I envisioned it to be. I keep thinking that pastas from authentic Italian restaurants would be small. In this case, think of a portion in between Marcello and Anducci's. For $14.00, it was a decent value considering the Entertainment coupon. As for the pasta itself... that's another story... The linguine was bordering on overcooked and the sauce was quite watery. Furthermore, it was very salty. It completely masked the fresh tomato and clams.
Viv tried one of their many types of Veal Cutlets. I believe she had the Parmigiana. By virtue of using essentially the same tomato sauce, it was salty. Also, the breading was mushy and loose. This was not a textural winner in any sense of the word. Normally, a pan fried cutlet should be crispy no matter what sauce you put on top. To prove this point, the Schnitzel at the Old Bavaria Haus were very crispy despite the sauce on top of them. Italian Stallion went with a Baked Sausage Penne. As you can see in the picture, there is more liquid at the bottom of the penne than an overflowing toilet. It looked more like penne in tomato broth than baked penne. He liked the flavour of the sauce despite being watery. Wolvie had the Veal Prosciutto and it was quite flavourful due to the prosciutto. The veal was tender; however, it was quite thin. She really didn't care for the vegetables, they were overcooked.
The kids shared a Penne Alfredo and the kitchen intelligently split the order into 2 plates. Again, the pasta was a bit overcooked; but in this case it worked for the kiddies. There was quite a bit of Alfredo sauce on the plate, although it did taste quite good. Italian Stallion thought that they didn't reduce the sauce enough, consequently it was not very thick. My daughter ate lots while my son didn't eat a lot as usual since there was pepper in it (the infamous "things" in the food). On a side note, they did pretty well here, looks like I can take them to nicer restaurants after all!
It's interesting that the meal was a bit disappointing. Maybe I went in with unrealistic expectations. After all, another Italian friend of mine recommended the place. However, to preface this, he has only had the gnocchi and lasagna there - 2 dishes I did not order. Mind you, Italian Stallion wasn't all that impressed either and as his nickname suggests, he's Italian too. His philosophy on Italian food, particularly pasta, is best eaten at home cooked by mom. The pasta sauces are cooked slowly over a long period of time with love. No restaurant has the time or financial commitment to cook a sauce for 8 hours (unless if it is a fine dining place that charges $50.00 for pasta!). So, mom's cooking is better! How can anyone argue with that?
- Reasonable prices
- Good portions
- Pretty nice dining room
- Food was generally salty
- Pastas were watery and overcooked
- The outside needs some work