A taste of tradition

Spend an evening at Moro’s and you’ll swear you’re in a time warp. The food is from a meat-and-potatoes era. The waitstaff wears tuxedos. On one evening we watched a table of highschoolers en route to the prom. All those pastel dresses and spiky heels.

On another night I overheard the dad at the next table say to an extraordinarily well-behaved little boy, "Do not speak unless you’re spoken to."

Our waitperson told us that Moro’s has been up and running for 18 years, although he had been working there for only 13.

I don’t know what Allen Road looked like 18 years ago, but last week more than half the storefronts were empty. It was eerie. Yet, our waitperson assured us, Moro’s gets busier every year.

Its customers are on to a good thing. Most entrées cost around $14 and include everything from soup to nuts (literally). Start with the house minestrone; it is prepared in the classic style and served with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Salad, potatoes and green beans come with, and after dinner a bowl of oranges, apples and walnuts is placed on the table. Remember cracking walnuts with a nutcracker?

The menu describes the house salad as "crisp green tossed salad with the purest of God’s olive oil, wine vinegar, ceci beans, egg, tomatoes and iceberg lettuce." The waitperson makes the dressing at your table and tosses the salad, adding an extra grinding of pepper, if desired, when the plate is set before you. (I was glad to learn that God’s olive oil is available under the Filippo Berio label.)

Nouvelle cuisine it is not, but it is amazing how good a salad of iceberg lettuce can be if the ingredients are cold and crisp and freshly prepared.

There is a meat locker in the basement where owner Thomas Moro butchers his own veal, the specialty of the house. There are 10 veal dishes on the menu, most prepared Italiano style.

Veal Paprikas is an exception; this Hungarian dish is served with homemade noodles and wonderful, thick sour cream. The noodles offset the abundance of paprika, and the portions are so hearty that you can count on taking home another meal.

Veal Columbo is medallions which are pounded thin, breaded and sautéed, then covered with a rich tomato and cheese sauce, laced with sherry.

My favorite was a lighter dish called Veal Triestina, which has medallions (sans breading) that are sautéed with artichoke hearts in butter and lemon.

There are a number of pasta dishes, most under $10. Appetizers are extra. We had a wonderful marinated beef, with the meat sliced paper thin and tossed with a kicky vinaigrette.

Three "Flaming Desserts" are described on the menu, but we did not see any pyrotechnics in the room. We tried the tiramisu, which is not made in-house but was still quite good, served in a pool of Tia Maria.

It is worth a trip to Moro’s just to experience the professional service. The meal proceeds at a carefully supervised pace, prompt but not rushed. Your water glass is refilled before it is empty. The bread is whisked away and replaced with a fresh basket when it is down to the last few slices. It is subtly pointed out that the Parmesan is on the table for the minestrone.

When a customer pronounces "tournedos" as "tornadoes" the waitperson continues to treat him respectfully.

Those were the days.

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