|Image by Magic Ketchup via Flickr|
|Squid-ink pasta at a restaurant in Venice, Italy.|
I was celebrating my birthday on Friday night at Sanducci's Trattoria with one of my favorite dishes -- black pasta with lobster -- when four women were shown to the next table.
I had an open bottle of chianti I had brought from home, enough for a glass of wine for me, my wife and my mother-in-law. The women had three bottles of wine.
My eyes widened. With about six glasses of wine in each bottle, the four women could divide a total of 18 glasses. I wondered if one of them was the designated driver.
Did they start drinking before they arrived? One woman carefully cut her mozzarella-and-tomato appetizer into four sections before she started to eat.
Sanducci's opened a year ago in a new location in River Edge, and I really enjoy the food, but the kitchen can't handle orders when the popular restaurant is close to being full, as it was Friday.
I ordered my black pasta in a red sauce, instead of a vodka sauce with cream, and the chunks of lobster were cooked beautifully ($18.95). I sprinkled a little grated cheese on the dish -- something I'm told Italians never do with seafood pasta.
My wife had angel hair pasta with crab and fresh artichokes ($15.95), and my mother-in-law ordered chicken parmigiana, which came with spaghetti ($14.95). Both took home plenty of food.
We started with a crisp, delicious Caesar's salad for three, with just enough croutons ($15.95).
If there is something foreign in her dish, my wife will find it. At Sanducci's, she found a tiny piece of steel wool in her pasta, and we told the waiter.
Lisa, one of the owners, came over and explained pots are cleaned with steel wool and sometimes, minute pieces get caught in rivets and end up in the food. She offered to make my wife another pasta dish.
My wife declined, but the restaurant didn't charge me for the espresso that ended my meal.
Sanducci's is set up oddly, with dining rooms on two levels. You have to drive down a slope into the rear parking lot, then take an elevator to the second level, but walk down a flight of steps to reach the hostess on the first level.
We didn't like the table we were shown on the first level, so we asked to be seated upstairs. We were hungry when we arrived, but there was a wait for the salad and another wait of about 10 minutes between salad and entrees.
If Sanducci's bakes its own bread, it's a failure. I broke my diet for a couple of crusts dipped in olive oil, but it wasn't worth it. And the tomato focaccia that comes with the bread is tasteless.
This morning, I thought of the four women with the three bottles of wine when I read about a study that links even moderate consumption of alcohol to a higher risk of breast cancer.
However, if I was a woman, I would not give up a glass or two of wine with dinner a few times a week.
Sanducci's Trattoria, 620 Kinderkamack Road,
River Edge; 201-599-0600. BYO.