As for the few riskier ingredients that were used here, they were appreciated -- until they became repetitive. Take the insalata trinacria ($5.75), a mix of fennels, goat cheese, and orange fingers in a sherry vinaigrette, or the verdure con caprino ($6.95), grilled radicchio and endive dusted with goat cheese. These more interesting choices reflect a certain amount of thought. They also reflect another circumstantial irritant -- once an ingredient has been discovered as slightly (for lack of a better word) trendy, it is used over and over again. In this case, it is the goat cheese among the appetizers. Artichokes figure largely in other dishes, such as the bresaola, the delizie di mamma ($7.95), an artichoke, fava bean, and garlic mixture, and the risotto all terra, an Italian rice dish. And pistachios were sprinkled on both my main course, the tortellini aurora ($11.95), a house specialty of squash-stuffed tortellini in an uninsightful cream sauce, and my dessert, a cannoli ($4.75) absolutely ruined by candied fruit in the filling.
By the time the meal is over, each of the "new" ingredients has showed up in two or three different recipes. I prefer dining to be a surprising adventure all the way through, not just at the start of the meal. And on a menu that offers a mere sampling of dishes, it speaks to me of cost-cutting, which is also not a sin -- until someone notices.
I should mention, too, that, although the menu does not list them as such, the pasta courses are served in first-course (read: small) portions and the veal, chicken, and fish courses are served as entrees. My partner and I both chose pasta as a main course, having had no indication that the servings would be insufficient, and preferring the selections of agnolotti, rigatoni, and penne to the blander "simply grilled" meats and fishes. He adored the cavatelli villa Athena ($11.95), a twisted noodle garnished with eggplant and marinara sauce.
He did not adore the size of the portion. It is suggested on the menu that pasta can be shared as an appetizer. I would suggest a plate all to yourself. Following this, a full order of the veal stuffed with (what else?) goat cheese, pine nuts, and raisins ($14.50), the lamb chops in balsamic vinegar ($18.50), or the Dover sole in a citrus sauce ($16.50) might not seem unreasonable, until, boosted by your appetite, the bill arrives.
DOMENICO'S 2271 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Coral Gables; 442-2033. Lunch Monday-Friday from 11:00 a.m. -- 2:00 p.m.; dinner Monday-Thursday from 6:00 p.m. -- 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to midnight.