Cooking With Cave Man

Tuttu Santii

Recipe by
Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant:  Tutti Santi

Location:  Gilbert, AZ,  on corner stop

Day & time visited: Friday night, 6pm

Reservations:  Not needed.

 

 

It was my turn to pick the restaurant so I chose, Tutti Santi.  I had passed it several times on my way to the gym and it appeared to be local and I like to support local restaurants.  Caveman and I had read reviews on this place and sort of had a mixed bag going in.  We heard negatives like it was way too expensive and the food was mediocre and then positives like the service and food was great!!! So, we decided to see for ourselves.  Just so you know – My Caveman makes the best marinara sauce known to man – it’s homemade and fabulous, so we will never order marinara “out and about”….just something we know about ourselves to be true…This makes the “Italian restaurant” feat a little more challenging.

I dressed cute – turquoise jeans, and a black tanktop, and Caveman wore a nice button down shirt with jeans. We set out on our ‘date night’.  We got to Tutti Santi around 6pm on a Friday night and there was zero wait!  We went inside and were immediately seated by the host.  We were instantly impressed with the totally white décor they had chosen for the inside.   They had white curtains draping elegantly over the windows in the dining area, as well as old fashioned family pictures, and old world paintings.  The chandeliers were gorgeous and complimented the dining area, giving it lots of character inside. Definitely looks better inside than roadside.  The most confusing part of this first impression was the apparent sophistication around the restaurant …and then you look into the bar, and the TV was playing an NFL replay!?? What? It was the Jets no less and it just didn’t seem to fit the pleasant décor….

Time for drinks!!!  I liked the wine menu, as red wine sounded fabulous….. I order the Alamos Argentine Malbec, about $7 a glass.  My man opted for a greyhound (not a wine guy) vodka and grapefruit juice – which tasted great and ran about $6 a glass. Our service was prompt and confident, which we both appreciate. I did notice they were confused on the proper wine glass selection as they served my red wine in a white wine glass.  Upon delivering our drinks, our waiter instantly described the “specials” which included an appetizer and 2 different entrees. He sold Caveman on the spot by the sounds of ‘that one special.’  Before our waiter let us have another minute to decide on food, he served us a basket filled with Italian bread & butter all wrapped in a white cloth.  But this was not just ordinary butter.  This butter had the slightest hint of something blended into it.  Not an outstanding amount though, as it took us a minute to figure out what seasoning was enhancing this butter.  And then it came to us….. Rosemary! Just the tiniest dash of rosemary was blended into the butter and we liked it.  Something nice to munch on with the drinks.

Now, let’s get to appetizers.   We ordered the Carpaccio di Bue which comprised of thinly sliced raw pieces of filet mignon, covered in capers with basil and extra virgin olive oil on the plate.  It came presented with provolone cheese slices on the side and a diced tomato mixture to top it off.  So, we started gathering each component and gave it a taste. Wow!  The meat slices were well seasoned and practically melted in my mouth.  Add the tomato mixture and a slice of cheese – talk about balance!  The salty taste of the cheese paired very nicely with the filet and tomatoes and capers really made my palate dance. We found ourselves enjoying every single bite of the Carpaccio di Bue.  Worth every penny of the $15.95 price, and we would order it again.  As we’re sitting enjoying this delightful appetizer, Caveman and I begin looking around when we saw an old Brick Style Pizza Oven that appeared to be out of commission…  We asked our waiter “Why, (oh why) is that pizza oven out of commission?! Why would you let that happen in an Italian joint?”  He simply replied they tried making it work, but he wasn’t sure the latest status.  **Special Note: We hope they bring that pizza oven back to life!**

Almost time for dinner, but before I get to that, we had our pre-dinner accompaniments.  Caveman had the minestrone
soup and I got a salad.  The minestrone was colorful and chunky, with a liquid base that was not too creamy.  The flavor was missing salt, so we had to add a couple spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to make it taste better.  The biggest “no-no” of all was that it was brought to the table lukewarm!  Too cold for soup and very sad for us.

The salad was very basic, both in presentation and taste.  It had roma tomatoes, lots of greenery, but was too large for a dinner salad.  The balsamic vinegar dressing was a house combination and tasted good, but overall it was just average.  We recommend some additional color on the plate for the salad (onions or olives) and some croutons or something similar to give us the crunch that was missing.   At this point…we are hoping the entrees taste more like the appetizer. The funniest part of all…Caveman and I ended up switching, my salad for his soup!  Give me soup any day!!  But – I will say – I need it hot.

We needed another drink.  We asked, and very quickly – we received another Greyhound and Malbec.  Hey – this time the Malbec was in a red wine glass!! Did that bartender read my thoughts?  Very attentive service by our waiter…always important when it comes to drinks!

Time for dinner. I ordered the Agnello Dorato which was lamb shank braised in lamb vegetable stock and served over a bed of risotto alla millanese. It was priced at $25.95, so I had high expectations.  Plus, I had to get the lamb shank because this particular dish was like nothing I’ve ever ordered at an Italian Ristorante, so I wanted to see what Tutti Santi had to offer.  As it came to the table, I will say that the portion of Lamb Shank was huge!  The lamb was braised properly and proved to be extremely tender as it fell apart using only my fork.  The sauce tasted good, but 2 things I caution when ordering this dish:  One, there was entirely too much sauce on my plate which drowned out the taste of the risotto completely; and two, the Agnello Dorato was lacking salt.  This opinion is coming from a Cavewoman who never adds salt to any dish she is served.  However, at Tutti Santi, the Agnello Dorato needed salt!  For $25.95, nothing I order should need salt.  It is unfortunate that I cannot say too much about the risotto because it tasted like the millanese sauce that covered all the food on the plate, and I believe we mentioned the need for salt. The Italian Lamb Shank and Risotto combination can be best described as “comfort food.”  We all like it and at times, it’s needed…but it was nothing like Cavemom makes.

Remember that special from earlier that sold Caveman on the spot??  We believe they call this the “Chicken Special” and we can tell you that it was a boneless chicken breast, egg-washed, and then covered and stuffed with prosciutto, topped with gourmet cheeses and covered in a marsala mushroom sauce, served over Julian Vegetables and it ran for $22.95.   The chicken came to the table and the presentation was respectable.  Caveman started to dig in and noticed a couple of things.  First off – the vegetables were cold and were not seasoned!!  I know it’s a side dish, but side dishes still need to taste good!!  And be up to temperature, to that point.  What an important impression, especially after serving him cold soup earlier…

The chicken had a crispy exterior, but was bland in flavor.  The prosciutto stuffing made the chicken dry and it was also overcooked so that made it a tough, like chicken jerky.  While we were unimpressed with the chicken (I was definitely liking my lamb dish after trying the chicken special), we have to say the marsala sauce made the dish!  The sauce was seasoned very well and had a wonderful mushroom gravy flavor, but also the right consistency for a sauce.  We really enjoyed the essence of what the sauce did to the chicken and it helped raise the dish to a more suitable level.  To sum it up – the chicken lacked seasoning and was dried out, but the sauce saved the dish and made it edible.  We also feel the vegetables did absolutely nothing to compliment the meal and we want to remind Tutti Santi that food should always be served at a desirable temperature.  **at this time, we both have our forks in the lamb shank because it completely outweighed the presentation of ‘chicken special’**

As we were finishing dinner, I decided to stop at the restroom, and that’s when I saw this magnificent Mary Magdalene painting!  I had to stop and stare because it was completely awesome!  The décor continued to impress us and we liked the atmosphere in every corner.

Still wanting to satisfy that special something we were missing from this date night dinner, we wanted to continue on the mission of ‘trying something different.’ So, we decided to order a slice of the Mascarpone Cheesecake.  It came sensibly portioned, not too big, not too small, and it was drizzled in a lovely raspberry sauce.  Still, if you’re anything like me – raspberry sauce is not my first choice, so maybe ask prior to doing so or play it safe, and put it on the side.  Nevertheless, I was a trooper and do feel it added to the dessert.  The cake was served cold which we appreciated, but we noticed it was not real rich in flavor.  It was actually more creamy than New York Cheesecake…for those of you who have not tried this type.  We would have loved to relish more crunch from the crust to help break up the creaminess.  The texture was too smooth, and that much needed crunch in the crust could have helped to break up the monogamy on my palate. Altogether, it was kind of a boring dessert.

As the evening came to an end, we decided we really did like the artwork and overall mood of this restaurant.  They did a fine job delivering a decadent ambiance, but we just wish the food would have compared in the same ballpark as the price we paid.  Our base bill ended up at $115.94 and that was without the generous tip we added. (due to the incredible service)

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being poor, 5 being mediocre, and 10 being the best experience I can describe, here is how I rate the following for Tutti Santi:

 

Atmosphere – 8     Service -9     Appetizers- 7     Food-4     Drinks -7

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