Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No jacket required

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Despite its simple furnishings, casual dress policy and reasonable pricing, J. Baldwin’s fare is decidedly uptown. Entrées include six chicken options (ranging from Southern-fried to a low-carb almond-crusted variant in tomato-basil over zucchini linguini), several steaks (with Kobe flatiron an attractive option), a good number of sea-food items and several daily catches, jambalaya and, for vegetarians, portabella ravioli and mushrooms in a tomato-basil sauce. There's also a full array of imaginatively dressed, round and deep-dish designer pizzas that can be eaten in house or ordered in a half-baked state to cook at home. Most of the non-reserve wines are fairly marked up from $28 to $34, and though only Bud Light and Bass Ale are on tap, Baldwin compensates with an extensive list of quaffs by the bottle. Baldwin has every reason to be proud of his own restaurant. He has made it possible for ordinary folk in jeans and shorts to sample dishes he created when he labored in an entirely different gastronomical milieu.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Family style

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Despite a few jarring notes, this is the real deal — house-made pasta, fresh sauces, traditional dishes at reasonable prices; you can imagine somebody’s mama in the kitchen. The menu is much too long to do justice to — there are calzone, panini and pizza as well as 53 entrées, including veal, stuffed pastas and seafood. Highest praise must go to spaghetti carbonara “alla Bocelli,” osso buco and gnocchi Rita. Other possibilities range from linguine arrabbiata to linguine with shrimp, scallops and whitefish through veal chops, veal piccata and sautéed cod (baccala). And yes, you can add meatballs to any of the pasta dishes. The other special deal is free a cannoli on your birthday.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Far-out fare

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM

The setting is exquisite. Tapawingo, the Native American name for the land that the restaurant occupies, is a remodeled handsome country home, bordered front and back with lush gardens. Tapawingo’s prix-fixe dinners run from $50 to $65 for three courses — appetizer, entrée and dessert. The menu changes frequently through the seasons, as does the consistently creative complimentary amuse-bouche that amounts to a mini-course. For mains, try a surprisingly meaty Cornish game hen, or the moist chunk of perfectly grilled sturgeon. All of this culinary sophistication may sound intimidating, but the experience is lightened by the accomplished and helpful servers. On all accounts then, from the lovely surroundings, the gracious service and the fascinating dishes, Tapawingo lives up to its national reputation. The only thing is, it's 265 miles away.

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