Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cacciatore's Restaurant

Name: Cacciatore's Restaurant
Location: 365 Harry L Drive, Johnson City, NY 13790
Phone: (607) 798-7699
Cuisine: Italian
Attire: Casual
Price: Entrees range from $8 to $25. Usually a total of $50 for the two of us.
Cacciatore's is the first Italian restaurant I'll review in an area full of them, Grande's notwithstanding. Also, this'll be the first review of a restaurant in Johnson City that I'll have done, which is somewhat of a milestone given that I am a resident of said village. So I gotta make this one good.

We've been to Cacciatore's a lot over the years. It's close to where we live and they have good food at extremely fair prices. We've had a full dinner with bread, salad, entree, and dessert for less than $30 at Cacciatore's on numerous occasions, so it is possible to eat here very cheaply. We wouldn't keep coming back though, of course, if the food was subpar. Luckily, the restaurant is one of the best unheralded restaurants in the area, a place that has been consistently good and has improved consistently with just about every visit we've made in our six years of living in JC.

Cacciatore's is located in the so-called "Small Mall" on Harry L Drive across from the little league baseball fields and adjacent to where the former Magic City Music Hall was located. It's tucked about halfway into the shopping center and is a little hidden to those not looking for it. I'm always surprised when I mention Cacciatore's to someone and they haven't heard of it or don't know where it is. It's not an ideal location from a visibility standpoint but it's on a main drag so it's pretty easy to get to.

There's a small bar to the right of the restaurant as you walk in the front door and two dining areas to the left. I really like the atmosphere of Cacciatore's. It's dimly lit and intimate and there's often music playing like Frank Sinatra to provide an appropriate atmosphere. There's a warm neighborhood feel about the place. The waitresses are really good and attentive and have given good recommendations over the years. They are often busy with many tables at a time so they don't often have much time to dedicate to each table, but they are friendly and efficient.

For appetizers they have several options. We've had a few of them. On our most recent visit tonight, we didn't get an appetizer and opted to go the dessert route instead, but we've had the bruschetta, the mozzarella sticks, and the signature appetizer, the grilled mozzarella, which is mozzarella cheese wrapped in prosciutto. The mozzarella sticks are served with a dish of their homemade marinara sauce which I think is pretty fantastic. Tomato sauce can be a sensitive issue for many patrons of Italian restaurants--Cacciatore's is sweet but robust, and very good. The grilled mozzarella is less successful, in my opinion. Maybe the prosciutto just isn't my thing, but it had kind of a weird taste that I didn't quite care for. They also have a pretty good wine list. A bottle of red, a bottle of white, you know the tune...

They bring out complimentary bread which is fantastic, and all entrees come with salad. The house dressing is definitely the way to go and is one of my favorite parts of the Cacciatore's experience. One minor issue regarding the salad is that it isn't always cold. The lettuce is usually not very crisp and the dressing is usually room temperature. I'd prefer it a little more chilled.

For entrees, there are many options. They have a whole page full of signature entrees, which contains my personal favorite, the Penne with Caramelized Onions. It's penne tossed with oil and garlic and topped with onions that have been caramelized in balsamic vinegar and grated parseman cheese. It probably sounds pretty ordinary, but it's really quite commendable. And for $8, it's an absolute steal and one of the best bargain meals in the Southern Tier. They have lists of different chicken, veal, seafood, steak, and pasta entrees to choose from as well. The pasta dishes tend to run between $8 and $12. I've had several of them and have been happy with them, including the lasagna. Some of the steak and seafood options get up into the $20-$25 range. Tonight I decided to try the alfredo sauce and went with an entree called the Seafood Alfredo ($15).

As you can see, it consists of scallops, shrimp, clams, and mussels served over linguini and topped with the alfredo sauce. I was quite pleased with it. The seafood was cooked well and combined well with the alfredo. The pasta was cooked al dente and the homemade alfredo sauce was just as good as the red sauce. At only $15, I would definitely get this dish again, although it's hard to pull me away from the Penne with Caramelized Onions.

Megan got the Chicken Parmigiana ($13).

Yup, that's chicken underneath that generous helping of mozzarella on top, and it's served with a side of pasta (your choice). She was very happy with it. I sampled a couple bites and thought it was really good as well. Chicken was well-breaded and that red sauce has a nice thickness and excellent flavor. A good dish all-around.

I've never had a dessert at Cacciatore's I didn't like. Today we decided to split a cannoli.

It was quite delicious and went well with the coffee I also ordered to finish the meal. Lots of restaurants in the area have cannoli but I think Cacciatore's is the best of the bunch in that regard.

Overall, Cacciatore's deserves a higher reputation than it currently has. It keeps a relatively low profile due to its location. The restaurant has a comfortable atmosphere, an efficient wait staff, and very good food that seems to get better with every visit. Plus, it's very reasonably priced compared with its peers. I highly recommend it!

Grade: A-

Cacciatore's on Urbanspoon

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