You have to pay attention to the commerce in your city when you like it a lot. I don't know how my friends completely missed the big Italian restaurant that just opened in between the Starbucks and Ocean Grill off the square. It just opened this past week.
Always excited to try a new restaurant, I went there on Tuesday night. Now this is the difference between Cleveland and Madison (I know I have mentioned the differences before). In Cleveland, there would be an hour and a half wait. And a zillion people in front of you with those pagers that I haven't seen since I moved. Because the ambiance of this place was very, very chain like. I give it a thumbs down. Sorry, Francesca. But I like your name.
The food didn't taste so local to me. It wasn't very busy. There just wasn't anything special about it. But, I am willing to give it a second chance. When I am dining on a square that serves as the largest farmer's market in the country, I expect all of my food to taste like it came from them.
Madison Locals do not like chain restaurants. However, I think it will attract people. Like the folks I see every Saturday, walking a half a mile an hour, eating something with food coloring and a hairdo from 1987. But not the gray haired lady I see gardening in her linen pants at 6:30 AM, or the guy I see training his puppy to swim in the bay. You get the picture?
The service is always questionable when a place first opens up. After waiting for quite some time for the server to come to our table after our food was delivered, my dining partner asked her, "You busy?" in a nice, friendly manner. Her reply: "I, I .... I don't even know what's going on..." She was a nice gal who would serve herself better at a coffee shop as a hippie barista. Don't get me wrong, I didn't think she was bad. I think she was overwhelmed with the place being new.
Good Italian food is hard to come by in Madison. I am sticking to Lombardino's or the most romantic, cozy and tasty Italian place - Osteria Papevero.
My favorite part of "The Isthmus" is finding out the juice on the restaurants. Who is going out, who is coming in, what's good and what's bad.
Now - has anyone noticed that promising looking spot across from Marigold? It is going to be called "Merchant Market?" It looks like it will be an urban market with a wine bar and cocktails. Sounds good.