Price -A-Roni

Just when this pitiable customer could endure no more deception, then came a fillet of salmon with radicchio, grapes, pine nuts, and a white wine sauce ($22) that momentarily raised this submerged vessel back to life. The salmon, beautifully cooked to a rosy pink and flavored enticingly, was ordered by one of my guests, a newly wed Italian-American woman of considerable understanding and appreciation of fine food. She smiled as she sampled, and after her husband and I tasted a bite, so did we. But the boons were about as long-lived as Ed Rollins's tenure at the aborted Perot's campaign. The lamb chops with thyme sauce ($21) were served rare enough to emit bleats upon penetrating their soft red flesh.

More of a club than a home, Casa Rolandi's service is a plus only if you have clout. We were mostly ignored throughout the course of dinner, but toward the end, a woman of continental elegance entered the restaurant, sat down on her own, and the waiters and busboys descended on her like buzzards. Had it been the owner of the restaurant himself -- in drag yet! -- this lady could not have been more thoughtfully and promptly attended. Our waiter, conversely, a Spaniard from Burgos, disappeared for fifteen-minute stretches.

But Rolandi's signature worst came in the shape of a dessert. An ice cream cake, no less, one clearly intended to resemble a baked alaska. Doused and flambeed with enough booze to melt the ice cream and jazzed up with a rubicund raspberry sauce, the resulting slush was the spitting image of a botched operation. No more sightly than Tammy Faye's rouged mug, Casa Rolandi's cake is a bona fide horror. It's the Jackson Memorial of desserts, guaranteed to give cardiologists -- or sweet-toothed customers -- mind-bending technicolor nightmares.

CASA ROLANDI 1930 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Coral Gables; 444-2187. Hours: Lunch Monday -- Friday from noon to 3:00 p.m.; dinner Sunday -- Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 6:00 to 11:30 p.m.

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