BY MAXIMILIAN KWIATKOWSKI
There’s something every travel guide tells you to avoid when eating out: If it has a tourist menu, STAY AWAY. I have read this in probably three guides and on every website about Italy and restaurants.
However, we all have our moments of weakness. Sometimes we are tired, hungry and need to use the latrine. I heed you, be strong, otherwise you will end up at a place like Ristorante Antica Torre. Apparently the place has been open long enough to be considered a historical restaurant, but sometimes old restaurants are better off left to the dustbin so something new to take its place.
My low opinion has nothing to do with the service, however. The two gentlemen who served me were efficient and polite and spoke near perfect English. It is also very clean inside; the bathrooms are well kept and the floors are spotless.
This, however, is the only good thing I can say about this place. If I was looking for a clean bathroom and a shiny floor, I could have walked to the train station and paid a euro to use their bathroom and bought a Kebab. I didn’t though. Stupid, stupid me.
Instead I ate off of the dreaded tourist menu. The sad thing was, it was cheaper than the alla carte option of the two dishes I wanted. The deal seems quite good: A pasta primi, a fish or meat secondi with a side, and a dessert. For 27 euro? Oh believe me; it is too good to be true.
I was first given bread. They were tiny, stale buns, which reminded me of something from Dominick’s. But this was only the beginning.
My tortellini was bland and probably not fresh. It tasted fine, but 10 euro for something from the grocery store is not appealing. The pasta sauce was probably store bought Ragu, mixed with some ground beef they fried up quickly. “A” for effort and I need to try that at home sometime, but it has no business being something equivalent of a 10 euro first course.
My second course was slightly unexpected. I ordered the mix of fried fish of the Adriatic. In the states we are used to fish not looking like fish. What I got was an assortment of fish tails, sprats (a type of small fish) and whole shrimp.
They were surprisingly fresh and actually pretty good. The shrimp were the best. Rip off the head and you have some very flavorful shrimp, but there weren’t many of them. The basket was fairly sparse, with a lot of the tiny sprats. This was priced at 15 euro. I am pretty sure I could get something similar and larger for cheaper somewhere else.
The desert was a choice of coffee, fruit or cheese. I don’t like coffee, I didn’t trust their fruit, so I went with the cheese. I was given an enormous block of some of the most pungent cheese ever. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either.
So in the end, heed this advice: Don’t go anywhere with a tourist menu. Avoid places where the staff asks you to come in, and at the very least, Google a few places before going somewhere. I regret not doing so, because I was stuck here.
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