August 14, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Piccolino Restaurant at Eldorado—Oops

"I don't like writing a negative review...but sometimes they need to hear the raw truth when things are really sub-par"

By Liz Simon

Trips & Quips

Liz Simon is a photographer, writer and cyclist who likes to combine the three in her quest to discover the nooks and crannies of New Mexico. Sometimes, means of transportation other than bicycle are employed---including the Rail Runner and motorcycle.

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Yesterday was the second time I've eaten at the relatively new restaurant in the Eldorado shopping area known as The Agora.

The first time, back in May, I ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana sandwich. I expected a succulent, lightly breaded and fried piece of eggplant on a crispy roll or baguette. What I got instead was a lightly grilled, and very small piece of eggplant on a large doughy roll with lots of tomato sauce. The entire performance blended into a pinkish mass on the inside, and, well, you get the picture. This is why, for certain dishes, eggplant needs to be breaded and fried. It has that creamy texture which can easily become pasty if not countered with the crispiness of frying. This for example and by contrast is why Harry's Roadhouse does exactly that for their Eggplant and Mozarella pizza---lightly breaded and fried rounds of eggplant on top of a lovely tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella. The result is outstanding.

Back to Piccolino. The accompanying salad for the eggplant sandwich was your generic yellowish iceberg lettuce mix, with an uninteresting dressing. Today's meal was simple, or so I thought: spaghetti and meatballs. I sat outside in their lovely setting in the Agora garden area and ordered a decaf coffee to start out. The coffee was so thin and weak, that I literally did not know if I was drinking tea or coffee. I had to ask for sugar, which was not on the table. Then I had to ask for cream. The "coffee" was cold by then.

There was no silverware on the table, so when I was brought the appetizer of something that was supposed to be garlic bread with a bowl of tomato sauce, I had no napkin and had to ask for that too.The so-called garlic bread was also mediocre, being overall doughy in texture. The tomato dipping sauce was red. Period.

The main dish arrived looking quite nice, but the meatballs had little flavor of meat, and a lot of flavor of bread and herbs. I had to ask for the standard grated cheese to top it off since that was not on the table nor was it brought with the meal. The cheese arrived in your usual glass shaker, making me feel like I was at Pizza Hut or some similar chain. Well at least it wasn't in those small plastic packets; so it could have been worse I suppose.

I guess that if I closed my eyes I would have know that I was eating spaghetti and meatballs, but only just barely. It was quite low on flavor. At least the spaghetti was not overcooked and that was the only redeeming feature of the meal.

I don't like writing a negative review. I want local businesses to thrive and feel encouraged, but sometimes they need to hear the raw truth when things are really sub-par. And this is such a case. I will not be back to Piccolino.

Cheers, and
Happy Trails to You
From The Land of Enchantment

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