Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Aromi

"The trouble with eating Italian food is that 5 or 6 days later, you're hungry again."

-George Miller
We first went to Aromi years ago, not long after it opened. For some reason, we didn't go again. I don't remember exactly why, but it just didn't give us the wows we are always searching for.

In the years that followed, either Aromi changed or we have. I'm willing to concede that either is eminently possible. I'd heard many positive reports. We went back recently and enjoyed it very much.

By recently, I mean four weeks ago. I've had something of a blog backlog buildup. Unfortunately, memory has become an issue again, so I can't provide the most detailed descriptions of the food. The pictures do help a bit, though.

What I can tell you for sure is that we got some wows this time.

Aromi is located on one of the most fashionable residential streets in the Vinohrady neighborhood. It is a 10 minute, uphill walk from the top of Wenceslas Square.
The dining room has an airy, wide open feeling, with high ceilings and hardwood floors. It is divided into two sections that meet at the front door. Wine bottles fill shelves along some walls.

Aromi specializes in seafood, and they say they get regular shipments of fresh fish. The waiter will offer to bring out the tray and show you the daily catch. It is usually priced by weight. I am a little wary of ordering this way, especially since our unpleasant 900 CZK grilled octopus episode. We told him not to bother with the show and tell routine.

We checked the menu, but a lot of the specials, written chalkboards on the dining room wall, sounded too good to resist. They also have some written on paper in front of the restaurant.

For a starter, we decided to split the seafood antipasto for 395 CZK. Loved it.

Clearly, there were sardines, crayfish, grilled squid, snails, and cuttlefish under their own black ink.But here's where I'm having the most trouble remembering. On the left, I believe there was a scallop under breadcrumbs, based on the shell. But I'm not sure. There also appear to be some razor clams.

The antipasto special didn't stop there. It also came with a bowl of mussels and clams.
The mussels were surprisingly fresh and delicious, considering it is the summer months. The clams were very small and not too special. They was chopped parsley and plenty of lemon, which contributed to the lemony broth underneath.

For a main course, V got the pasta and prawn special for 365 CZK. The prawns were freshly cooked and retained the great flavor that frozen, packaged prawns often lack.
The pasta was perfectly cooked, and filled with fresh tomatoes in the sauce. There was plenty of garlic in there and it was topped with fresh, chopped parsley.

I had gnocchi with beef tenderloin and tomato sauce for 285 CZK. This dish also had the nice chunks of tomato in the sauce. It was topped with a few sprigs of rosemary, which actually added a lot to the flavor. The beef was excellent, very tender.

The gnocchi were very light and came with shaved Parmesan cheese on top. Intitially, I found it all a little bland, so I added finely grated Parmesan, along with several shots of salt. That really improved things, and I liked it very much. I would get this gain, even if I have to put in some work seasoning it to my own taste.
For drinks, I had two .3 liter glasses of Stella Artois at 35 CZK each. V had two .15 glasses of a dry Soave, label unknown, at 120 CZK each. Not cheap, but she liked it. Mattoni sparkling mineral water was 45 CZK for a .3 liter bottle.

Service was good. Friendly, efficient, and relatively unobtrusive. The final bill came to 1445 CZK. Not cheap, but it was a quality Italian meal. If the fresh seafood lures you in, or you order a whole bottle of good wine, the bill would climb well past that number.

I have a big sweet tooth and really would have loved to try a dessert, but pasta can be quite filling. There was no room. I couldn't wait 5 or 6 days until I was hungry again.

Aromi
Mánesova 78
Prague 2
Tel: (+420) 222 713 222

14 comments:

ej said...

Razor clams?

Brewsta said...

Yes!

http://www.awi-bremerhaven.de/Benthic/CoastalEco/population_ecology/PE_diversity3.html

Anonymous said...

Wow, like you my first visit made me not ever return. The lunch food was so boring and the decor was awful.

You have certainly peeked my curiosity and I may try it out again for dinner.

Brewsta said...

Honestly, I think the key is to order carefully. Value for money can go out the window fast here if you are not paying attention.

The specials were good, and while all were not spectacular, all were under 400 CZK. That made a difference in my mind.

On the visit years ago, I think I ordered something that didn't play to their strength, like pork tenderloin. My recollection being that it was dull and dry.

Anonymous said...

talk about not playing on strengths. what is the point of going to an italian place like aromi and drinking three glasses of stela? Aromi isn't les moules. aromi has some excellent half bottles of wine which you could have ordered for less than the price of your stella and the two glasses of soave

Brewsta said...

It's been so long since I'd had a snotty comment, I was beginning to think a plague had swept through the troll community.

So.

What's the point thinking I would want or like what you like? Your tastes, which I am sure are impeccable, are not my tastes.

I felt like drinking beer, and I had zero interest in drinking wine, good, inexpensive, or otherwise. V has her own tastes. And you have yours.

Your information is useful, your presentation needs work.

You did share some of your valuable knowledge on Aromi's wine, so I'll give a pointer on constructive criticism.

This would have been so much better:

"Speaking of playing to strengths, here's a tip. Aromi has some excellent half bottles of wine which you can order for less than the price of the Stella and the two glasses of Soave."

Anonymous said...

Could have something to do with my good friend from the UK having an influence in the restaurant now. He has 5 excellent Italian restaurants around the Surrey & Berks area and has been making several trips here to do things with Aromi.

Brewsta said...

Thanks. I'm always appreciative of tips, advice, or any other restaurant-related information.

Anonymous said...

talk about snotty comments - there is one above. the point is, if you really want to appreciate a restaurant, don't have your favourite meal which you could have anywhere (and which from the reviews you appear to have everywhere), ask the waiter what is good and what he recommends. then (provided the recommendation is not the stuff from last night that they want to get rid of), you get a truer appreciation of the place and what it offers. half the time, i don't even read the menu, i try to be guided by what the restaurant points me to - otherwise I am left to compare burgers with burgers and chicken and chips with chicken and chips.

same as with drink - let them guide you. stella in a top class italian restaurant when they serve tignanello - so american - surprised you didn't order pizza

Brewsta said...

Man, you've obviously read a lot of the blog. But not a fan, alas.

You do seem to know quite a lot about food and drink. I'm sure more than I.

Of course I make no claim of expertise clearly on the front page.

I just live my life, such as it is, eating out a lot and writing about it. That's been the concept from the beginning. Take it or leave it.

So why start out all patronizing as you did in your first comment?

Perhaps more people would take your great advice if you didn't begin with the condescending snob routine. Maybe even a closed-minded, burger binging American like me.

You are but one of a few hundred readers. Some like it. Some don't. I'm fine with that.

It's just a blog. Relax.

Anonymous said...

brewsta. i am a big fan of your blog and don't know how you get away with taking all those pictures in the restaurant without someone knowing you are a restuarant critic. just trying to suggest how to get better enjoyment of going to new restaurants (of course, in some cases you regret taking the waiters choice and wished you did go for your old favourite). otherwise if you review much the same food on each restaurant you visit, those who don't like that kind of food may switch off

Brewsta said...

Thank you. That is a fair point of criticism, well taken. I should be more adventerous with my ordering. My partner, actually, is far more adventerous than I and will take bigger chances while I often stick to favorites. I admire her for that.

I will say that I generally would not put myself in the hands of any waiter in this town without a serious reference, and I've eaten in just about every top-end place. Even if I trusted them with my palate, I'm not so sure about my wallet.

Others have encouraged me in this adventurous direction, and I have tried to give more variety. I have posted about relatively expensive restaurants - Brasserie M, Rialto, La Casa Argentina, even Aromi, and also done sausage stands with my hamburgers.

On the other hand, people have to realized this is my hobby and creative outlet. I don't get paid, I don't have my expenses reimbursed. I pay the bills.

The blog follows my life, for the most part, as it always was. I cannot push too far in making my life follow the many varied wishes of readers without making my own life less pleasurable or making things more difficult for those around me.

Brewsta said...

Oh, I forgot - the photos. You'd be surprised how many tourists take pictures of their food. It is not the most regular thing, but I notice it more and more. Sometimes I'll consciously avoid speaking any Czech to appear more tourist-like.

Anonymous said...

Went to Aromi three times and there was always something wrong - wrong meal, peace of metal in my dish and completely bland something the last time. I don´t know what the fuss is all about, but I wouldn´t recommend it to anybody. They apologised, but didn´t not seem too worried.... I am mostly concerned about the metal which supposingly came from a "dishwashing device" (their actual words)