11-19-08 Italian dinner makes family say, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’
Motorsports Editor Godwin Kelly; his wife, Diane; and their daughter and in-house food critic, Ellie Kelly, ventured to La Benedetto’s in Palm Coast to find out why their friends and neighbors were giving the restaurant such rave reviews. Godwin gives a play-by-play:
Q. How did you find this place? Just follow your nose. You know when you step out of the car and your mouth starts to water that you have found the Italian promised land. We had several friends ask if we had dined there. After saying “no” so many times, it was time to say “yes.” Once we started eating, we were all saying, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” It was like a flashback to “When Harry Met Sally.”
Q. What’s it like inside? It’s quaint and cozy with soft lighting, almost fuzzy. We took a booth, which was super comfortable for my middle-aged back. Our server, Heather, was on us faster than thunder follows lightning. She got our drink order and returned with a warm, soft loaf of bread playing hide and seek under a napkin in a basket. I love playing hide and seek.
Q. How does the menu look in that soft light? You can read it just fine. It was good reading. There isn’t page after page of selections, but plenty to choose from. You know what I mean? Categories included chicken, veal, seafood, beef and pizza. Yes, it’s an upscale bistro, but its menu offers pizza.
Q. We know you, Mr. Appetizer. What did you get in the pre-meal? Yes, you know me well. We, and I emphasize WE, ordered seafood-stuffed mushrooms and zuppa de’ mussels. Both were excellent, especially the mussels, which were served with an enticing white sauce. Once the generous helping of mussels was devoured, we took that loaf and did some serious dipping. It reminded me of those National Geographic films where the wildebeests crowd around a mud hole for a sip of water. Yeah, like that.
Q. How was the main course? Here’s the lineup: Diane had shrimp scampi. Ellie had an antipasto salad. I ordered veal parmigiana, with a side of spaghetti. Chomp, chomp, chomp. Gulp, gulp, gulp. And, presto, it was gone. It must have been like watching three castaways eating their first meal back on the mainland. All very good, except Diane complained that her shrimp disappeared from her plate too fast.
Q. Dessert tray? You won’t believe this, but I had no room for dessert after the feast. Diane got a cannoli while Ellie had a strawberry shortcake. I have to defer to them. They reported it was all good.
Q. What did it all cost? My momma always said, “You get what you pay for.” So it was a bit pricey, but worth the money. For two appetizers, three main courses, two desserts and iced tea, the bill was $107, including a little something for Heather.
La Benedetto’s 7 Old Kings Road, Palm Coast, in the Old Kings Commons Plaza
ACCESSIBILITY: Plenty of parking. Ramps up to the walkway. It’s a little tight once you get into the front door, but manageable.
HOURS: Open daily for lunch and dinner, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
THIS AND THAT: Credit cards accepted. Wine and beer available. Twilight dinner served 4-6 p.m. Bring an appetite, because they serve big portions.
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