Saturday, August 21, 2010

Di Pescara

I remember one time in high school I had a teacher that had just moved to the area and was looking for a good fish restaurant in the north suburbs. Oddly enough, I didn't really know what to say so I went home and asked my mom for some suggestions. There were tons of places that you could get a piece of fish at, but there weren't necessarily so many fish places. Obviously we could recommend Bob Chinn's, but the line often gets a bit out of hand. There's also the Davis Street Fish Market, but downtown Evanston isn't right next to Buffalo Grove. I think we ended up suggesting Dover Straits. Anyways, a few years later, Lettuce Entertain You answered the call for a good fish joint by opening up Di Pescara in Northbrook Court. Last week was my Dad's birthday, and the Pearl family loves a good piece of fish. My parents had been to Glenn's Diner quite a bit recently, plus they wanted to meet somewhere in the middle which is why Di Pescara was the perfect choice for us.

Di Pescara is a pretty large restaurant separated into two main rooms and a bar. We had a reservation which was necessary. On the weekends this place gets really packed, and even if you come early they have quite the crowd. Lisa, Noam, and I got there before our reservation with the aim of tying a happy birthday balloon to dad's chair, but the surprised was spoiled since my dad beat us there. So I held on to this balloon in the bar as we had a few cocktails and waited for mom to get there.

When we got sat down, they put us in a nice quiet corner of the back room. One of our good friends Randi Simon is a waitress there (and an excellent one at that), and although we requested, they were a little busy to rearrange the waiting formation. Our waiter was still very good. Waters were kept full, he was knowledgeable, and food was brought out in a timely manner. I think he forgot one of our appetizers, but it turned out for the best because we had far too much to eat as it was.

The cost is reasonable for a place serving up fresh fish. Appetizers/Salads are around $10 and they fed the whole table (5 of us). The seafood ranges from simple fillets around $20 to crab legs around $30. Basically you can look at Di Pescara as though you were going to a good steakhouse except that they pay all of their attention to fish. That being said the costs are reasonable.

The Food
As I said before, we started our night off with a few drinks at the bar. I had a Gin and Tonic, Noam got a beer, my dad went for a Goose on the Rocks, and Lisa had a Blueberry Vodka Lemonade. For our appetizers our table split a Spicy Tuna Roll, a bowl of New England Clam Chowder, and an Orchard Salad. For not being a sushi place, the Spicy Tuna Roll was very good and came with a tasty spicy mayo on the side. The Clam Chowder seemed to be a big hit, and I think it's one of the things my dad likes to come back for. I thought the Orchard Salad (apple, pear, jicama, greens, and green goddess dressing) was below average. I think the dressing could've been heavier, and all I really tasted was acidity. Also, every ingredient was very crunchy, and the dish could've used some textural balance.

 The Blueberry Vodka Lemonade
The Spicy Tuna Roll

The New England Clam Chowder

The Orchard Salad

For the main course Noam got the Ginger BBQ Salmon, Mom got the Cedar Planked Whitefish, Lisa got the King Crab Legs, and I got the Parmesan Crusted Grouper. My dad did his favorite thing which is to get a plate and have a bunch of everyone's dish (I think he's onto something big here). I didn't try the Crab Legs but they seemed to be a big hit. My Grouper had a nice crust to it and was perfectly cooked. The Salmon was pretty good but slightly overcooked. The Whitefish was prepared well, but I've never been a fan of the flavor from a cedar plank. In general the sauces that were special to each dish were a little bit muddled, but the fish still stood out well.

 The Parmesan Crusted Grouper

The Alaskan King Crab Legs

The Cedar Planked Lake Superior Whitefish

The Ginger Barbecue Salmon

For dessert they brought out a sampler plate for the birthday boy including a Cupcake, a Lemon Meringue Pie, and a Mini Root Beer Float. In addition to that, we ordered their specialty dessert, The Peppermint Ice Cream. It came with a large amount of hot fudge and had a nice amount of peppermint. They serve it in a chilled bowl, and this is reasonably the best thing there.

 The Peppermint Ice Cream

My Dad and his Birthday Dessert Platter

Di Pescara provides a nice service by giving a variety of fish cooked to the proper standards. It's a great alternative for someone who enjoys that steak house feel and is a little tired of steak. The service is excellent, and there are nice choices for a complete meal. The next time I go, I'm going to try the Artichoke appetizer. I thought it was strange that a seeming mainstay on the menu was Chilean Sea Bass (which I thought was not really acceptable?). All the dishes were very good, but I would've liked some bolder flavors with the entrees. I'm giving Di Pescara 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Di Pescara on Urbanspoon


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