Saturday on South Avenue and Lunch at Tutti Baci

Last week was pretty stressful in my business and so we didn't actually do a lot of things worth reporting in Westfield. For this Saturday a few observation from South Avenue and a review of lunch at Tutti Baci.
On the west side of South Avenue and already in Scotch Plains (close to the intersection with Hetfield Ave) there was a Friendly's that closed several years ago. I had a few breakfasts there and they weren't impressive or even memorable, typical chain-restaurant type food. After they closed the restaurant, the building was empty for a long time and I was always wondering what would happen as the location was a bit an off-prime for a chain place. Finally, today seemingly something starts to happen as there is serious construction equipment on the lot now and there are seemingly construction workers getting busy. I'm not sure if they will remodel or demolish the building. I will keep my eyes open and report back.

Further east, Gaucho's (see earlier blog) seems to make some progress in building up his Brazilian BBQ and Grill, although not as fast as planned. As mentioned in the earlier post they were planning to open end of June. That opportunity has passed. Locking at the state of affairs I would think it will take at least another few weeks before the grand opening will take place.

Finally, it seems after some stop and go things finally seem to get momentum at Mario's Italian Deli (see earlier blog). There is serious work happening inside and I had a chance to talk to one of Mario's brothers. Yes, there is an actual Mario. They are planning to open towards the end of July. I was told very proudly that the family is first generation Italian, the food will be all home made, authentic and tasty and they will have everything you could ever want from an Italian Deli including breakfast. Also, Mario is not related to the folks from Tutti Baci across the street.

And one more thing on South Avenue. Even the Subway a little east of the station now has outside seating. It is a chain, so nothing fancy, but reliably decent. It's about time that they join into the "al fresco" movement that is now affecting South Avenue. ;-))
After a busy morning where I essentially skipped breakfast and being on South Avenue already, I decided to head over to Tutti Baci for lunch. I had coffee and pastries there a couple of times before but never lunch and I heard from other people that they had interesting paninis. In addition, with the beautiful weather (warm but not hot or humid) I could enjoy the outside seating there. I ordered the Roma Panini with prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula & tomatoes.

Overall not a bad sandwich but nothing special and considering size, quality and taste for $7.95 a bit overpriced. The sandwich comes on a ciabatta type roll that is grilled on a contact grill. It is not grilled long enough for the ingredients to get warm, what I would actually have liked as it enhances the taste. The bread is ok, although for my taste a bit to compact and heavy. The prosciutto was generous and of good taste, but I had prosciutto before that had a more pronouced flavor profile and was bit more tender. The mozzarella was the real one, the fresh one (not the presliced "American Mozzarella" you often get.) Greens and tomatos were unremarkable and I missed the specific nuance that arugula typically adds. No additional sauce, flavors or spices detectable. Finally even for lunch standards the sandwich is a bit small. OK bread, OK ingredients and average preparation combined with a small size leads to an average sandwich.

Rockn' Joe has a similar sandwich on the menu for the exact same price, that in my opinion is larger in size, better made and better tasting and even comes with small side salad instead of a bag of chips. I had it a a few month ago and it was much more satisfying than the one at Tutti Baci.

In summary my personal opinion: Tutti Baci is not worth coming back for a panini. Not a bad foundation, but Tutti Baci should really try a bit harder to delivery a better product, better flavor, a bit larger in size and better execution. They also should work at the price or add a small salad, especially when looking at the competition on the other side of the railroad tracks and the emerging competition of Mario's just next door.

I will continue to get some coffee and pastries at Tutti Baci and I also like to try the pizza that looked pretty appealing in the display. More on this in a later blog post.

Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tutti Baci is good but not consistently so. I agree with the sandwiches being average and overpriced. The owner is sometimes very friendly and sometimes rushed and hectic.