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Ristorante Santa Lucia

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Bahnhofstraße 7 69115 Heidelberg

Framed oil paintings and beautifully decorated ceramic plates ornament the walls inside the ristorante.  Bare white paint cover the walls around, bricks making up the bottom half.  Wooden cabinets and furnishings appear in different places.  Peach colored tablecloths cover the rather small wooden tables.  Flowers sit in translucent containers, next to a black pepper grinder and salt shaker, as well as a flickering candle, at each table.  Cozy cushioned chairs await guests at each end of the table.  Wine bottles are lined up neatly towards the back of the restaurant and provide a nice decorative touch.  The dining room is charming, lovely, and inviting.  This is the dining environment at Santa Lucia, one of numerous Italian restaurants in this romantic city of Heidelberg.

On the finely printed menu is typical Italian fare – salads, a variety of pizzas, a selection of pastas including spaghettis and tortellini, and a variety of meat dishes.  The list of desserts is very impressive – a larger selection in comparison to other pizzerias and restaurants – but not all of them is available each day (read on below).  The list of beverages is crammed into one page, but diners can find a large selection of Italian wines.  Naturally, hot and cold drinks are also included.

 

A bread basket containing five slices of warm complimentary bread is provided.  The bread is not spectacular, a bit tough and chewy.  But it’s free of charge, so you can’t really expect too much.

 

The homemade tortelloni is a seasonal dish featured on the special handwritten section of the menu.  Stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese, the large pockets of pasta are served in a mascarpone cheese sauce.  Accompanying the dish is a container of grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of the pasta.  12 euros for 5 stuffed tortelloni is a reasonably fair price.

The pasta does look and taste homemade; however the filling looks far from being fresh.  Instead of clean, vibrant leaves of green spinach and creamy white and grainy ricotta cheese, the stuffing merely looks like a mash up of the two ingredients prepared days or even weeks in advance.  The pasta is not exactly ‘al dente,’ rather a tad overcooked.  Adding to the list of problems is the scant amount of cream sauce.  Instead of sitting in a thick mascarpone cheese sauce, the tortelloni is bathing in a milky and runny pool and ends up barely absorbing anything.  Fortunately, the complimentary bread aids in soaking up the remaining sauce.  Overall, the dish is not bad, but nothing to marvel at either.

Panna Cotta has always been a favorite of mine whenever dining at Italian restaurants.  So when I saw it listed on the menu, it was a guaranteed sure thing.  But when the waiter revealed it wasn’t any available today – only tiramisu and crème brûlée – there was no way this meal would end on a positive note.  Looking for something remotely creamy and close in texture to this gelatinous Italian dessert, I opted for the crème brûlée.

 

At 6 €, the crème brûlée is grossly overpriced.  Served in a ceramic container with a handle, the dessert is taken from a cooled glass display in the dining room back to the kitchen to be torched on the surface, giving it the classic, hard caramel top.  The result is a nice contrast of smooth, vanilla flavored custard with a crisp, caramelized layer that adds an extra dimension.  Vanilla bean specks are visible throughout the thin sheet of custard.  Though it tastes good, the dessert isn’t as rich and silky as one would expect and simply justify the price tag.

Santa Lucia is a family owned establishment and that warm hospitality is delivered.  However, the service can be a bit sluggish at times.  The staff is friendly, nonetheless.

Santa Lucia follows the formula of many other Italian ristorantes and pizzerias in Heidelberg – welcoming, charming dining room interiors but only decent, uninspiring food.  With some slight improvements and changes, though, Santa Lucia can easily become a fabulous, top notch Italian restaurant.

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Summary:

Located behind the Bauhaus not too far from Heidelberg’s Bismarckplatz, Santa Lucia is an Italian restaurant with charm.  Serving a reasonable selection of pizzas, salads, pastas, risotto, and meat entrées, Santa Lucia presents diners with a good Italian experience in a typical, yet pleasant, dining atmosphere.  Prices are fair.  Service is rather ordinary.

Overall – 3 stars

  • Hausgemachte Tortelloni mit Spinat-Ricottafüllung in MascarponeSauce (Homemade Tortelloni with Spinach and Ricotta Cheese, served in a Mascarpone Saucce) – 3/5
  • Crème Brûlée – 2.5/5
  • Service – 4/5

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Written by geschmack

July 2nd, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Ristorante Da Vinci

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Bahnhofstraße 29 69115 Heidelberg

Da Vinci is synonymous with innovation, creativity, and artistic genius.  Any Italian restaurant that adopts the name of this true Renaissance man immediately assumes high expectations on all fronts.  The ambiance, service, presentation, and, most importantly, the food needs to be topnotch.  Although Ristorante Da Vinci in Heidelberg offers creative dishes on its changing menu, not everything here is a work of art.

 

The interior is simple and modern, yet cozy and pleasant.  Upon entering the doors, you are met with two Roman style pillars essentially directing you to the wide bar area.  Diverging out on each side, dining tables fill up the rest of the area.  Brown cushioned booth style seating line the walls.  Red padded seats provide an alternative.  The tablecloth covered tables are clean and set up with white folded napkins and utensils awaiting each diner.  Red roses sit at each table, accompanied by a lit candle.  The flower matches the red, black, and white color scheme of the interior.  The walls are bare white, clean and straightforward.  There is plenty of lighting coming from the outside and the ceiling lights.  Aside from some plants and round silver ornaments along the window sills, furnishings are nonexistent.  The simplistic nature of the restaurant creates this relaxed and calming ambiance.

On the menu are various salads, an assortment of pastas (spaghetti and tagliatelle, to name a few), pizzas, oven baked items including lasagnas, and hearty meat dishes.  Specials are included as a separate attachment inside the booklet.  There are also daily specialties written on chalkboards both inside and outside of the restaurant.  The wine list is extensive and there are quite a few wine bottles and alcoholic containers sitting behind the bar counter.  Drinks include your standard selection of warm and cold beverages.

 

Like several Italian restaurants, you are given a complimentary starter at Da Vinci.  Today, it was Italian bread in a basket.  The rustic bread has a thick, crunchy crust; the inside a spongy texture that’s perfect for soaking up sauce.  Whatever you are given, it’s undoubtedly a good way to begin any meal at Da Vinci.

 

But instead of an artistic masterpiece, the Lasagne de Pesce is a gooey mess.  Lasagna is supposed to be hearty and thick.  The size of the dish here leaves a lot to be desired.  What happened to the traditional method of making lasagna?  Alternating layers of noodles, cheese, sauce, and filling seems to have been replaced with basic layers of pasta and filling.   Sadly, even the filling is neglected.  Tiny pieces of salmon and chopped spinach are unevenly distributed amongst the many layers of pasta.

At times, all you get are empty sheets of noodle.  The cheese and sauce are on the outside looking in, pleading to help.  In order to fully enjoy the flavors, you have to coat each lasagna bite in the cheese sauce.  Yet, the flavor combinations don’t dance as well as they should.  The salmon takes a back seat; the pasta and cheeses dominate the dish like Mac & Cheese.  During today’s visit, there was even a startling discovery hidden under the thick cheese topping – an entire bay leaf that survived the cooking process.  At 11,50 €, the Lasagne de Pesce definitely deserves a makeover.

 

Luckily, the desserts shine at Da Vinci.  There is a good selection of traditional Italian sweets – tiramisu, panna cotta, gelato, and cassata sicillana.  The cassata sicillana, priced at 5,00 €, is not made traditional style.  Instead of cake, this decadent sweet is made up of Italian ice cream and cream, with pieces of candied fruit sparsely scattered throughout, and topped with milk chocolate.  Presentation is fantastic.  Da Vinci would surely be proud.  Sliced fresh fruits create a perimeter around the dessert and add a nice contrast to the candied pieces within.  Not overly sweet, the cassata is a dreamy way to put an end to your Italian meal.

With its posh interior, efficient service, and recognizable name, you would expect a lot more from this restaurant.  With a few minor adjustments, Da Vinci could easily become one of the better Italian restaurants in Heidelberg.

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Summary:

Hidden behind the Bauhaus in Heidelberg, Da Vinci serves up decent Italian cuisine at reasonable prices.  Outdoor seating available on beautiful days.  Look for daily specials on the chalkboards.

Overall – 3.5 stars

  • Lasagne de Pesce – 2.5/5
  • Cassata Sicillana – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

May 15th, 2010 at 7:51 pm