The Wheat Fields


I’ve been here twice.  The first time was on a Sunday afternoon as I was trying the restaurants on Broadway.  It’s an inviting place, with the sidewalk seating common to downtown, and the classic Deano/Sinatra tunes playing inside (Question:  what music did Italian restaurants play before the ‘60s?)  Both times were almost perfect, marred by minor service issues.  The first time, when I told the hostess that I was dining alone, the waitress chimed in with “oh, well, eating alone can be fun too, sometimes!”  Now I’m not sensitive at all about my singleton status – if I were, I’d never leave the house.  But something in the patronizing way she said that really got my back up.  Fortunately, I was mollified completely by the food.  The first course I’ll discuss at the end.  The second course was tagliatelle Bolognese.  Nice, irregular strips of pasta and a delicious minced meat and vegetable sauce.  The second time I was there was a similar story:  a very well constructed and cooked burger, but unsauced and a vanished waitress to bring any kind of condiment to make it perfect.  Good bun, forgettable and unnecessary lettuce/tomato/onion and the first example I’ve had of fried potatoes that I didn’t completely approve of.  Contrary to the shoestring potatoes listed on the menu, these were thick wedges, fried once until they were a beautiful golden-brown… and insufficiently cooked in the center.  Not that I really fault them, wedges that thick can’t be perfectly cooked (in my opinion) in a single-step process.  I’m sure though, that some people prefer steak fries in this style.  Anyway, I still really like this place, am planning on my parents here, and am anxious to try their desserts some time when I plan ahead and save room.

Oh, yes.  The arancini.  It technically wasn’t the first thing I ate when I visited, as they brought out some good bread in what seems to be a Saratoga standard paper lined chromed wire spiral basket.  But these arancini, these little perfect russet spheres… they crackle under your front teeth, filling your mouth and olfactory cavity with the aroma of mushrooms.  Rough on your tongue, all texture and scent.  Then the sharp taste of the sauce and the creamy warmth of the risotto spreads in your mouth as you begin chewing.  These things are masterworks.  Get an order.  Per person.  And then another couple for the table.