Getting Mushy

Meat, chicken, and seafood entrees are as numerous as the pasta dishes, and just as inexpensive (at $12.95, veal occupies the high end). The quality of pollo tricolore reflected this frugality, however: A pounded chicken-breast half, breaded and deep-fried, was gristly and tasteless, its coating overcooked ($10.95). The above-mentioned tricolore salad drifted atop the well-done poultry to no avail, though we liked the scoop of creamy mashed potatoes that garnished the plate.

Mumbled by our waiter, specials were hard to understand. Seeing our confusion, he opened his mouth to exhibit something white on his tongue (a lozenge perhaps, or a tooth?), then made a hasty exit to spit it out before returning. We were finally able to ascertain that osso buco was being offered that night. Served over white fettuccine, the veal shank was at first moist and flavorful, blanketed with a delicious dark brown vegetable sauce. Unfortunately, as it cooled and the fat congealed, the mild, musky meat toughened and stuck to the bone. The fettuccine was gloppy, strands of pasta sticking to one another in clumps. More than anything, the whole dish reminded me of overcooked egg noodles under pot roast.

The pace of the service was off, and after having sat with the remains of dinner in front of us for twenty minutes, we opted to forgo dessert and scram. Next time I hanker for noodles, I'm choosing from among my four favorites' welcoming arms, firm and elastic like good pasta should be.

Botticelli Trattoria
9705 S Dixie Hwy; 665-8550. Lunch Monday A Friday from 11:30 to 2:30. Dinner Sunday A Thursday from 5:30 to 10:00; open until 10:30 Friday and Saturday.

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