Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Comensoli's Final Review

Located just a jump away from Kalamazoo College next to the railroad tracks on West Main, Comensoli’s Italian Bistro and Bar seems slightly out of place surrounded by roads on all sides. It stands alone, sticking out like a sore thumb, a small cozy looking restaurant unlike the dilapidated apartments and old buildings neighboring it.

An enclosed patio, bar, and dining room allows for around 70 people to fit comfortably. The black, burgundy, and deep red decor with brick walls made the space feel warm and inviting. The waiters dress all in black, giving a nice professional touch to the bistro.

The tables are draped with black tablecloths, silverware cocooned in bright red linen napkins. Wrought iron chairs encompass the many small tables, creating a cozy environment where diners can sit getting a peek into the kitchen or a view of outside and the abandoned Burger King building across the street.

With the sight of customers, waiters and cooks hustle off to finish their tasks that should have been done before customers arrived: lightening candles, changing the radio from talk show to music, dimming the lights, and finishing setting the tables. The service is not up the standard of what some may deem acceptable for a higher-end eating experience. The wait staff is awkward and the service a bit too slow making uncomfortable amounts of time in-between courses as well as having empty plates taken away.

But even so, the food makes up for it.

More up scale than Fazoli’s and less crowded than Olive Garden, Comensoli’s is a wonderful place to venture on a date, go out to for a family meal or to have a nice meal with a group of friends. No one will go hungry with the unlimited choices at Comensoli’s. The option to create your dish is a favorite of many. It includes eight types of pasta, nine sauces, and six meat options allowing even the pickiest of eaters to find the perfect meal. Gluten free pasta is available, a distinctive option that most Italian restaurants don’t have or make known. The huge variety of choices allows for anyone to be satisfied with their dining experience.

The Feta Bruschetta is something that cannot be ignored. Not only is the plating done tastefully, but the mixture of the salty and crumbly feta and the savory tomatoes and onions form an exquisite combination. There is nothing else like it as far as taste goes. The feta adds that perfect softness needed to set on top of a crisp and crunchy toasted slice of French bread.  It’s a true “melt-in-your-mouth” experience. Every last bite of the juicy toppings will be scooped up even when all the toasted bread has been devoured, with nothing left on the plate to be disposed of. No matter how many times this appetizer is ordered and devoured, the dish will leave any diner wanting to come back again and again for more.

After a long time contemplating the multitude of choices, diners should be sure to try the one of the many classic dishes, but also some of more inventive ones as well. The Exotic Mushroom looks like the normal Fettuccini Alfredo, but tastes nothing like it. With a lavish cream sauce over linguini, accompanied by crimini and portabella mushrooms, the sauce is much lighter than a heavy Alfredo. The mushrooms gave the pasta a little extra something special. With their juiciness and soft consistency combined with the slight earthy flavor combined with the cream, this is one dish that must be tasted.

The Tomato Basil Pasta, with its olive oil and white wine sauce drizzled over angel hair pasta, accompanied by tomatoes, basil, onions, and garlic with a light coating of Parmesan cheese, is the perfect combination of all great Italian ingredients joined into superb dish. It is surprising how fresh everything tastes and is just another plus towards Comensoli’s excellent meals.

Filling and scrumptious, the gnocchi is paired with a sauce of choice. The potatoes dumplings were cooked to a perfect al dente. Depending on the mood, gnocchi can be paired with Comensoli’s savory marinara or pesto sauce that made with a less than desired amount of basil. A tad creamy, the pesto sauce could have used a bit more basil bringing more taste to the sauce, but even so, the taste was flavorful nonetheless.

All sorts of pasta dishes are listed on the menu, from the classic Baked Manicotti and Ravioli to Lasagna and Gnocchi, which allows for no hunger to stay unsatisfied. Comensoli’s veer away from the basic dishes with the Frutta di Mare, a white wine, cream based seafood meal, Veal Marsala, and Cudighi, a homemade pork sausage sandwich with marinara sauce, mushrooms, onions and mozzarella. The choices at Comensoli’s almost seem unlimited and each dish seems to be perfected even with the large amount of meals on the menu.

If one is hesitant about trying a new restaurant, Comensoli’s has the opportunity for a test run. During the first and third Tuesday of every month from 5-7, the bistro offers a wine tasting event with bottomless appetizers and wine for $15 per person.

Flavorful. That is the word that comes to mind while thinking about the food at Comensoli’s. For an appetizer and two entrees and a bill just over $30, this restaurant is worth the slight splurge. Entrees are around $15, salad and appetizers never exceeding $10, and soups under $5.

Even with a rough start and slow table service, Comensoli’s sure knows how to impress with their appetizing and tasty creations. If you are looking for Italian food close to campus that won’t weight down your wallet and is rich in flavor, Comensoli’s is the perfect choice.

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