The Grade is in- Gabriella's Italian Steakhouse
It was as if we were going to the prom, I kid you not. The date was set way ahead of time. We picked out what to wear with the utmost enthusiasm. Hair, makeup— oh, it had been so long since we were this glammed up. And last but not least, we checked and double checked the weather.
But the prom was most certainly not on our schedule, Lord knows it’s been umpteen years since those corsage-wearing days were around. We were, like I hope so many of you are attempting to do, going out to dinner!
Amid the current state of everything these days, my two besties and I decided to get out and do the outdoor dining thing.
We decided to go to Gabriella’s Italian Steakhouse as it had been on our radar for a while and had supposedly set up an exemplary outdoor dining scene. Upon arriving, I’d have to give credit to that buzz- the space was welcoming, spacious and beautifully organized. While definitely professional in appearance and layout, it still exuded a warm and cozy atmosphere. I was really pleased to be there.
Our waiter, masked of course, was very polite and instructed us to use our phones to peruse the menu. And while I’m the kind of person who likes to keep my phone away during dinner, I was all about the digital menu to cut down on germs.
We started with 3 appetizers. The oreganata style Artichokes were sublime. The crispy breadcrumb topping was in perfect balance with the small and tender artichoke halves. The lemon and parsley broth that covered the bottom of the serving dish was so light, vibrant and just savory enough to keep you wanting more. Our Fritto Misto was also an enjoyable starter. Studded with ample calamari, shrimp and bay scallops, it was the fried platter that had been invading my dreams lately. Our third plate was the Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese. Tried and true, it was everything it should have been- creamy, fresh and popping with a freshly torn basil chiffonade atop. First course- job well done, Chefs!
As for entrees, this was another successful course in my book. The Rigatoni Bolognese was delightful. The meat sauce was present enough yet didn't weigh down the house-made pasta pieces. I’m a sucker for ricotta on anything, so I was totally smitten with the mascarpone infused variety that was dolloped on top. While the Cacio E Pepe was not my dish of the night, my pal who had it placed before her was completely loving her choice. I forked a few shares and yup, it was very lovable. Almost like an Alfredo sauce that was turned 5 notches down on the heavy scale, it coated each strand ever-so-slightly. A little cracked pepper here and some freshly shaved Pecorino-Romano there, it was a pasta-lover’s dream. The last dish at our table was the Skirt Steak. It is a steakhouse and all, so when in Rome. Another winner here folks. A beautiful medium-rare cook with a charred and seasoned crust. The corn salad and the salsa verde that accompanied were tasty too, just not as much as the beef. I wouldn't say I’d leave them off the plate, I’d encourage the chef to maybe just choose one to befriend the steak next time. All in all though, entrees were stellar.
And since any girls’ night isn't complete without dessert (and juicy gossip), we went with a warm chocolate chip cookie skillet adorned with vanilla gelato to split. The ten minute required wait time for this sweet was well worth it. Served in a mini cast iron pan, it had the looks of something I was sad that I had agreed to share. I mentally worked it out and we all devoured the last course.
So was it great to get out since February? Y to the E to the S! Was it weird wearing a mask to the bathroom while walking through a vacant restaurant? 100%! Was I glad to order my food instead of making it? Uh-huh! Would I go out again to a makeshift outdoor dining spot, be served by a masked waiter and give the restaurant industry a little extra support? In a heartbeat.
But was it really like prom in the end? Sorry y’all, those memories can never be matched;).
With that said- just get out friends, you'll be happy (and full) you did.
Gabrella’s Italian Steakhouse is located at 447 Route 35, Red Bank, NJ. Reservations recommended.