Alessio Ristorante Italiano
Thousand Oaks, CA
As you open the massive, beautiful glass door and make your entrance into the Alessio Ristorante in Thousand Oaks, your eye captures a large, dimly lit, two-part restaurant: one side a huge bar and relaxation area and the other side; booths, tables and a huge fireplace beckoning you to come in and stay awhile. Their G.M., Jay Anthony, is never too far away and either he, or their genial hostess, will lead you to the most right table which will start to make you happy you came.
The menu seems to be as massive as the restaurant, itself: twelve Antipasti e Zuppe, eight Insalates, eighteen Pasta or Risotto dishes, eight Chicken dishes, six Veal choices, five Scampi , three Pizzas, six Sides and ten Desserts…choices and more choices. We should all have such problems!
I have narrowed my requests in most Italian restaurants to the same choices I made in Alessio: Antipasto al Italiano ($13.95), Minestrone soup ($6.95), Veal Parmigiano with a side of Spaghetti in meat sauce ($23.95) and, because we've never been there before, Pizza Margherita ($12.95). Fran selected the "Special" of the night, Sea Bass on a mound of vegetables ($21.95).
The feast was on. Their Antipasti is arranged beautifully, with the freshest, most delicate cold cuts, an array of lettuce in a light vinaigrette and sliced mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, artichoke hearts, black olives and cheeses – all arranged artfully and with care. It was most delicious. I do recommend their tomato-based Minestrone filled with garden vegetables, all blended to create a heavenly aroma. Although the Pizza was hand tossed and the ingredients fresh, the outcome is most ordinary. Good, yes; great? Sorry, no.
Chef Rudy's Veal Parmigiana more than made up for my disappointment with the Pizza. An extraordinary portion of thin-sliced scaloppini with a generous breading, topped with cheese and tomato sauce: a lovely presentation; an even lovelier taste. The spaghetti was also prepared al dente and was terrific.
Fran's fresh salad was a mixture of baby greens, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, shaved parmesan and was tossed in homemade Italian dressing. The report came through loud and clear: "A++"! I've never seen such a glow in my lady's eyes as she cut and ate her Sea Bass which was cooked to perfection with a healthy portion of vegetables. This, too, ranked in the "Superior" column for my girl.
Even though there were eleven choices of dessert, only decaf coffee concluded this most delicious dinner. The extra interest taken by our server and Mr. Anthony were most appreciated. All systems were Go! And when you find yourself at Alessio, make sure you tell 'em Giuseppe sent you!
Alessio Ristorante Italiano & Bar; 3731 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362; Tel. 805-557-0565; Dinner for two: Approximately $75 w/o alcohol; Four other Alessio branches: Laguna Niguel; West Hills; Northridge and Simi Valley; For more information, visit www.AlessioRestaurant.com