Those who remember Mountainside’s Sun Tavern will be pleased to know that a good Italian restaurant has taken its place. The owners of Mosaico, Croatian-born Andy Dinic and Guatemalan Rudy Carrera, have designed their new restaurant with an open kitchen and decorated it with mosaics, attractive lighting, and polished wood floors; screens with colored-glass panes divide the dining area from the kitchen.
Chef Louis Romero, previously the chef at Echoqua, a BYO in nearby Springfield, has a light hand with both classic and modern Italian dishes. The menu is comprehensive, with a few specials added each day. An appetizer of grilled calamari on a bed of dandelion greens with mushrooms and tomatoes is tender and just a little different from the standard deep-fried rings. I also like the two scallops with asparagus in a slightly sharp Chardonnay sauce and the grilled shrimp over mushroom-and-mascarpone polenta. The slight bitterness of sautéed broccoli rabe is a nice foil for the richness of its accompanying sweet sausage and spicy cherry peppers. The only appetizer that doesn’t work is the lump crabmeat with sliced fennel, hearts of palm, and mango; the crabmeat is fibrous, and there’s too little of it to justify the $12.95 price.
Chef Romero’s gnocchi special with chunks of dried ricotta, tomato, salami, peas, onion, and mushrooms is firm yet tender and full of flavor—good enough to order again. His ricotta-filled ravioli served with tomato sauce made with peas and fettuccine with clams, mussels, and shrimp are both expertly cooked and seasoned.
A Chilean sea bass special served with homemade mushroom agnolotti, oyster mushrooms, and baby vegetables is perfectly cooked, as is the grilled salmon served over grilled eggplant with shrimp and fresh tomatoes. The zuppa di pesci, which many restaurants tend to overcook, is beautifully prepared and absolutely delicious. A double-cut veal chop, while cooked as requested, is spoiled by its accompanying underripe, undercooked tomato wedges, onions, and potato strips. On the plus side, the Veal Mosaico—tender veal scaloppine, sliced sautéed Portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and Gorgonzola cheese with a lovely brandy sauce—tastes as good as it sounds, as does the tender filet mignon served with peeled asparagus, risotto, and a green-peppercorn sauce. Grilled shrimp over sautéed fresh spinach and grilled zucchini is garnished with fried onions and drizzled with a balsamic reduction for a sprightly zip.
All desserts are made in-house. Order the creamy amaretto-mascarpone cheesecake with amaretto sorbet and a caramel drizzle, the molten chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream, or the poached pears in pastry paired with cinnamon ice cream.
Reviewed in: May 2006Click here to leave a comment
Cuisine Type:European - Italian