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Sunday April 20, 2014
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La Vita Bistro

 

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Another evening the simple omission of salt sabotaged two meals--shrimp scampi over angel hair pasta and a parmesan-crusted ribeye with soupy garlic mashed potatoes. Cooking pasta and potatoes--and seafood and meat, for that matter--without salt pretty much renders them tasteless, and sprinkling on generous amounts at the table never really fixes the initial misstep. Moreover, the crust on the ribeye was uninspired, less a cheesy coating than a goopy white gravy. Unlike the other generously proportioned dishes, a friend's lobster ravioli was skimpy, the pasta undercooked. My eggplant Parmigiana featured nearly raw eggplant--a vegetable I never favor undercooked--but the marinara sauce and cheeses, scraped from the eggplant and mixed with the accompanying pasta, made a satisfying dinner.

That evening's appetizers--a tired antipasto of sliced meats and cheese hunks forlornly garnished with a roasted pepper or two, and tomato-basil soup so thick, chunky, and dry we would have sworn it was mistakenly scooped from a vat of pasta sauce--had not primed us for a great meal. But a lovely bottle of red wine suggested as an alternative to the one we ordered--and at the price of the original--nicely compensated. And dessert--a competent tiramisu and a tart, refreshing lemon spumoni--finished the evening in fine form.

La Vita Bistro works hard to fulfill its double mission--a neighborhood place for a tasty weeknight dinner and a destination spot for those intent on a brief respite from the everyday. Sometimes it succeeds quite well, sometimes it doesn't, but, hey, it's far enough away from Ann Arbor to be a vacation, and sometimes that's exactly what one needs.

La Vita Bistro

102 S. Howell St., Pinckney

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