Eating out can get expensive, especially when you don't cook. It can be tough when you want a decadent meal but you don't want to break the bank. Quattro Gastronomia, Lincoln Road's upscale Northern Italian eatery, has introduced weekly lunch specials to the menu, giving guests the option of enjoying the award-winning cuisine in a more relaxed and far less expensive way.
Italian twins Fabrizio and Nicola Carro are sharing the love Monday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m., extending lunch three hours past the usual 3 p.m. cutoff due to the demand of diners who wanted a little longer to linger over a bowl of pasta. With specials priced well below items on the regular menu, it's sure to align with your budget. Short Order was invited to sample the offerings and chat with the twins on managing two babies: Quattro and Via Verdi.
The menu is broken into three parts -- antipasti, pasta, and secondi. Italians love a hearty meal, so they usually opt for all three regardless of the time of day (lunch or dinner). We Americans are easy to please, so just a pasta dish will suffice, but we recommend an antipasti for the table. Oh, and a glass of prosecco or wine. They're just $7 for lunch and will make the rest of the day that much better. There's also people watching, so sit outside and make lunch entertaining. Who knew Mondays on Lincoln Road were so eventful?
With the recent opening of Via Verdi on the Upper Eastside, the twins are moving between the two locations, acting as owners of Via Verdi and still operating as executive chefs of Quattro. So, has Quattro changed now that they have their newborn? "Quattro has remained unchanged. The menu is still Northern Italian cuisine with seasonal changes. Via Verdi is a rustic approach to our Italian cuisine," Fabrizio says.
"Very few dishes cross over from one restaurant to the other," Nicola adds. As far as opening for lunch later, the twins thought it made sense for the area. "We are already open all day Saturday and Sunday. We extended these hours to the rest of the week due to popular demand and people not wanting to go over the bridge to Via Verdi."
Prosciutto e melone ($15) is a thing in Europe, especially Italy. A healthful and fulfilling dish, it pairs parma prosciutto with slices of cantaloupe. It's a hefty portion too, so if you're watching what you eat and pasta doesn't agree with your diet, this dish is a far better alternative to the grapes and turkey you'd planned to take to the office. And it keeps lunch under $20.
It's also offered only as a lunch special. "The fresh cantaloupe and prosciutto, spaghetti alla carbonara with crispy guanciale and pecorino romano, and grilled mahi-mahi with salsa verde and garden vegetables are the highlights of the lunch menu," Fabrizio explains. "They are also new additions, so you can't get them on the regular menu. The grilled beef battuta you can only have during lunch too."
There's also a salad, in case your diet is so strict that even prosciutto is out. It includes roasted beets and cucumber with multicolor tomatoes, asparagus, and a zesty lemon dressing ($14).
Those who love pasta will be thrilled to see carbonara on the specials menu. Quattro is heavy with guanciale, pecorino cheese, and egg yolk sauce ($18). It's enough to fill you up and have leftovers for dinner.
If red sauce is your thing, the parpadelle alla norma tosses fresh parpadelle pasta with eggplant and dry ricotta in a light but rich basil and tomato sauce ($16).
If you're brave enough to make it secondi or just want to skip through to the end and indulge in nothing but protein, the beef paillard dressed in a traditional olive oil, garlic, and tomato sauce ($22) will satisfy you. It's complemented by graceful arugula and Parmesan salad.
Or maybe lampuga is your thing. Don't know what that is? We didn't either. Turns out it's just Italian for mahi-mahi. This fillet is grilled in a lemon sauce and served on a bed of asparagus and alongside some colorful tomatoes with balsamic ($23).
How do the twins divide duties with all this food and running around? "We come a couple of times a week to Lincoln Road to go over things with our talented chef de cuisine. We create new specials, menu items, etc.," Nicola says.
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We asked the Italian brothers what they preferred -- red or white pasta sauce -- and if they could have only one dish for lunch every day for the rest of their lives, what it would be. Turns out twins do think alike, because they both said the same thing. For sauce, they'd go with red, but for a dish to have every day and never get tired off, they'd give up the red sauce and opt for spaghetti carbonara. "For sure!" You can now get the spaghetti carbonara Monday through Friday till 6 p.m.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha