Monday, May 19, 2014

Lorenzo's Italian Kitchen

106 S. Main
Desoto, Mo.
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Finally, finally, I was free of my work-leash for a proper outing. I'd worked some earlier in the day, but finished up sometime after noon.
This was a last minute decision. Seriously last minute. The best we could get Angel to do was to spit out three or four places, I picked this one from that list.
The Place:
Main Street in Desoto is old school, mid twentieth century style. The street itself runs alongside and parallel to the many railroad sidings that make up the busy maintenance facility. There are only businesses on one side of most of Main Street. It's a  charming small town and it has been getting a period-reflective update. Old style street lamps, etc. Angel occasionally takes dogs she's training along the sidewalk. Traffic, foot traffic, it's good for a dog to learn how to act around unexpected and unfamiliar, for a dog, common people places.
Lorenzo's is one of the many small shops tucked away in an narrow older building. When we walked in, there were only a couple of tables occupied. I knew this would soon change though. They'd announced live music on the patio starting at six. We were an hour ahead of them.
A beautiful day, not too warm, but not chilly, sunny with occasional fluffy clouds overhead.
The place is cozy. I can think of no other word for it.
The walls are wainscoted in dark wood, the upper walls painted the color of ripe tomatoes. Furniture is black, booths, tables and chairs. The shirts and half-aprons worn by the staff were also black.
We were shown a booth near the back and fell into our seats. "Katie will be with you shortly." the hostess said.
And she was, a happy looking young lady stepped up and asked about drinks. Tea, sweet tea, Root Beer.
She skipped off and we started going over the menus.
I'd had the pizza before, it was very good. I think I had pasta there, though I couldn't recall wish dish. Pasta sounded good though.
Katie brought our drinks and we ordered an appetizer that we'd just been discussing.
The Food:
Of course they serve toasted ravioli, everyone for dozens of miles around serves that. Lorenzo's has that along with their own 'in-your-face' alternative, toasted cannelloni.
It's prepared the same way, but instead of ravioli they stuff a tube-pasta and cut it into bite-size bits. We recalled having them on a prior visit and all agreed.
When the time to order the entrees came, we were ready.
I wasn't real hungry, I'd made a big breakfast for myself that morning after everyone else had left. Adam had to work, Angel was out pimping mutts at an adoption event at Buchheit's in Herculaneum. She's done these things a lot over the last ten years or so. They take a lot of time, a lot of her energy, but occasionally they place a dog. This was a good day, they found homes for two
We ordered.
Me: Baked Cannelloni.
Angel: Mare Monti (a seafood and pasta dish)
Adam: Calzone with bacon, pepperoni and sausage.
A calzone is a fancy name for a folded over pizza. (see picture) You could also say that pizza is an open faced calzone.
We all declined a salad, then out came the electronic devices.
The tea wasn't especially good, but the toasted cannelloni  was exceptional. Some places barely even try on these appetizers, Lorenzo's cares.The house-made sauce is much better than the generic stuff offered at most restaurants. The stuffed pasta bits were gone in no time at all.
After a short while, just as the tables started filling up, the food was served. Simple, uncluttered plates, the food needed little extra flare or fanfare.
Adam's calzone looked a bit like an upscale Hot Pocket. Angel's Mare was almost soup-like, my cannelloni was hard to see buried under thick, oozy sauce and melted white cheese.
I'd originally thought spaghetti, but the pasta to sauce/cheese ratio was a bit high. Cannelloni has only a little actual pasta, only enough to wrap the seasoned beef, chicken and veal insides. It's still a rich dish, but not as filling.
Angel's dish, Mare Monti has no actual horse in it.(much to my disappointment) The menu described it as Chopped clams, shrimp, real crab meat, fresh mushrooms and
Mare Monti
diced tomato, tossed in a light seafood broth and topped with fresh parsley.
Meaning of course, I would never order it for myself, it's the clams.
She sucked it down though, first picking at the individual seafood bits, and slurping the pasta, then dipping her bread into the remaining sauce. "I'd like to just pick the plate up and slurp it all down." She said, she really, really liked the fish sauce.
I chopped up my pasta tubes once I found them. The stringy melted cheese made it a bit awkward to eat, but Lorenzo's is a casual place, things like slurping and dangling cheese bridges from mouth to plate is
perfectly acceptable. The sauce was awesome, sweet but not too sweet, it certainly hit several notes that sounded like 'fresh'. The meat was not too spicy, the texture of the blend of three meats was flawless, almost buttery.
While I was eating I noticed the music I'd been rather enjoying. Big bands and crooners from a time before my own. When I do listen to or download music, this is among my favorite types. I really like the old guys from the 40's and 50's, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett. I like the contemporary crooners as well, Harry Connick Jr, Michael Buble and Tony Bennett. The music was orchestrated and peppy. It fit in this old place.
Of course, Adam liked his calzone, which looked thick and rich as well.

The place was starting to fill up as we finished. A large family with a couple of adorable children scooted a
couple of tables together. I say the tots were adorable, which means they stayed at the other end of the dining area. Distance definitely makes small kids more appealing.
Katie took very good care of us. Everything arrived in a timely manner, exactly as ordered. She checked on us frequently and didn't dawdle when it came time for the check.
The entire staff was friendly and attentive. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves and the many customers.
The food was simply outstanding and not overpriced. Our tab came in at only $41, less than we'd spend at one of the franchised casual dining places. From the quaint and cozy location, to the excellent staff, to the exceptional food, there's absolutely nothing I can't happily recommend about Lorenzo's.
Okay the tea wasn't great, but that may be deliberate. They offer lots of wines and beers there, a lot of choices. Maybe next time I'll have a more mature drink.

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