Via Maestra 42
It’s hard to believe a restaurant has managed to occupy the space former taken by ice cream parlors, but Via Maestra has done it, although admittedly the space is a little tight.
I dined there on a friday night, without a reservation. Reservations are recommended, because we had the option of sitting on barstools at the window or waiting about 15 minutes for a 2-top to open up. There were three other tables with reservation signs on them. Next time, we’ll go more with the flow.
Via Maestra has done something very sneaky and clever. Instead of removing the old ice cream parlor display units, they kept them and filled them with piles of dense gelato and assorted pastries and desserts, so you walk in the door and BAM you see the desserts and go weak in the knees. Now you’re stuck.
This bistro is not for the young and hip. Well, youngin’s and hipsters are certainly welcome, but you’ll feel a little out of place. See, the median age of the patrons is about 65, and the big tables are taken up by San Rogue neighborhood book clubs. Nonetheless we took a table near the front windows and set about having a meal.
I opted for no starter and jumped straight into a penne with a ridiculously good sauce made of tomatoes, cream, carrots, celery, mushrooms, sausage and walnuts off the printed menu. My companion got a salad of greens and cold marinated vegetables with a soft cheese, and a parpadelle with a strong beef and pork ragu from the specials list. All tables are served thinly sliced and lightly grilled ciabatta drizzled with fragrant olive oil.
The reason I skipped the starter was because I had full intentions to order dessert. I’d spied mousse-covered profiteroles in the dessert display when I’d first walked in. And while the spumone had tempted me once the dessert menu was put in my hands, I stuck to my guns (which the waiter approved). So good. The dude got the tiramisu, which was also good, but we both agreed the profiteroles were better.
As quoted in Karen Gordon’s Paris Out of Hand, “…profiteroles are so good I won’t tell you – just order it and see for yourself!”
But good luck ordering them, because they weren’t on the printed menu, so my guess is that it’s an occasional item.
Via Maestra 42