Saturday, September 13, 2014

Guest Post: La Terrazza Ristorante Italiano — Cherry Hill, NJ

Sacha here! You might remember me from Erin's review of Szechwan Garden. I am also known as @zigged.

Our 2014 family road trip took us east to visit my dad in New Jersey + enjoy adventures in Ocean City, MD, and New York City. My father and his wife took us out to dinner on the last night of our stay as an early celebration of my upcoming birthday. Their choice: La Terrazza Ristorante Italiano.

To start we shared two orders of calamari. We tried to get one order of grilled and one order of fried but the server said they were all out of grilled. (Not sure how that happens...?) In any case, the squid was tender and the breading was light and crunchy, which was just how fried calamari should be. It came with a wedge of lemon and two sauces, a marinara and a roasted red pepper. Don't be fooled by the photo—the plate was full but we swooped in like vultures before I remembered to snap a shot.

Four of us chose entrées that came with house salad, which was spring mix topped with two grape tomatoes and a drizzle of a creamy balsamic dressing. The dressing made the salad palatable—I'm not a big fan of spring mix because I think it feels and tastes like weed leaves—assuming you like dressing that is thick, smooth, and a teensy bit extra tangy. I thought two tiny tomatoes was a little skimpy, though. My dad got Caesar salad and The Kid got no salad, neither of which I have an opinion about.

I got one of the specials: lobster ravioli in a lobster cream sauce with shrimp and lump crab meat. The ravioli were red in color and stuffed full of lobster; I couldn't tell if there was any ricotta in there at all. The sauce was creamy, flavorful, and packed with seafood. I really enjoyed this dish. I imagine it would be good with a little cracked pepper on top but I only thought of that in retrospect. I ate all six ravioli + everything else on the plate besides the 3 or 4 shrimp, which I gave to The Kid.

The Huz got one of the specials: two crab cakes served with a cream sauce and a roasted red pepper sauce (same as with the calamari), with roasted potatoes and asparagus on the side. I did not try the crab cakes but he enjoyed them and the sauces. I heard him tell my father they were full of crab meat. I did try the potatoes and they were roasted to perfection with just the right about of herbs and spices. The asparagus had the right amount of tooth, too, based on the crunch I heard when he ate it.

The Kid got the shrimp Caesar flatbread. This seemed to be baked with the meat and then scattered with a chopped Caesar salad on top. She was disappointed that it had more crab meat than shrimp. (Well, she was surprised it had any crab meat, although I guess that's from not really reading the menu.) She chose it because she didn't want a heavy entrée and I'm not sure if she ate only half because she wasn't hungry or didn't like it. I didn't taste it but it looked appealing.

The Honorary Kid got lasagna. She ate most of it before declaring, "There's a lot of meat in there." I suspect she doesn't know what bolognese sauce is. I tasted it and picked up a pronounced nutmeg flavor, which must come from the béchamel sauce, and was glad I hadn't chosen that as my dish. The lasagna I'm accustomed to eating does not taste like nutmeg.

My dad got one of the specials: pork chop stuffed with broccoli rabe and roasted peppers and served in a marsala sauce, with roasted potatoes and spinach on the side. I didn't taste this because ① he was sitting across the table and ② I don't like broccoli rabe. He enjoyed it, though, and took about half home, which indicates that the portion was extremely generous (AKA my dad likes a large meal and to eat until he's quite full).

My dad's wife got...I'm not sure, really. I think it may have been one of the specials. I remember her choosing the pasta (capellini), and it looked like a frutti di mare-type dish, but I wasn't paying close attention and I forgot to ask.

Overall we really enjoyed this meal. More than one of us had leftovers boxed up and all of us left full and happy. Some of us didn't super duper love it but that's not a reflection on the quality of the food we were served but more on our choices.

My dad and his wife wanted to take us here because they loved La Posata, which recently closed, and they heard the chef had moved here. We found out from the server that the new chef wouldn't be arriving until August; what we ate had been on their standard dinner menu. The new menu will be some of these items, some La Posata items, and some new items. I expect the quality and taste will be at the same high level since both places serve(d) delicious dishes.

La Terrazza Ristorante Italiano [BYOB]
1401 Marlton Pike East
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

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