When word came out that a MEATBALL RESTAURANT would be opening dahntahn, the litigation group got excited. I circulated a P-G article announcing its plans, and every once in a while someone would email me asking “Is it open yet?” “How about now?” “When will it ooooopen?”
Finally, it opened, and it was time to go to lunch! Because we go big or go home, we visited Emporio twice in one week. Both times, the chow was awesome. The service ranked “ok.” Our servers were friendly, but in our first visit the server was painfully slow. In the second visit, the speed was unremarkable, neither fast nor slow. I expect this is part of the growing pains of a new restaurant, and should even out.
Emporio’s principle is simple: They serve meatballs. You can pick from beef, pork, chicken, veggie or the special of the day. They have a long list of sauces to choose from, and you pick your presentation: slider (1 meatball), panini (2 meatballs), grinder (3 meatballs), or bowl (4 meatballs). They also have various salads and starters to round out your meal.
The lighting is pretty dim in there, so I wasn’t able to get decent photos during my first visit. For the first visit, I went the slider route, and picked pork with bolognese sauce, chicken with parmesan sauce, and beef with mushroom sauce. They were all excellent, but the pork/bolognese was super excellent. I’m admittedly not much of a red sauce person, but I loved this bolognese, and could chow down on it for every meal. My dining companions were all equally enthusiastic about their picks, which is of course why we went again a few days later.
On my second visit, I started things off with the wedge salad. This was much more than your typical wedge of iceberg. The salad delivers plenty of crisp iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, chopped egg, pancetta and croutons, with a creamy garlic dressing.
Although I usually like to try something different at each visit to a restaurant, I loved that bolognese sauce too much to pass it up on my second visit. This time around, I opted for the pork panini. I expected that sauce would be baked in with the sandwich, but it was served on the side in a dish. This was even better, because I was able to heap generous spoonfuls on every bite.
Because Emporio is so new, I expected it to be jam-packed each time we went. However, on both visits we were seated right away. This may be in part because it was so bitterly cold on the days we went that no one in their right mind wanted to venture outdoors. The restaurant itself, however, is quite large and has plenty of seating. It also has a garage-door front to open to the outside when the weather is more pleasant, and I have heard that they have a large balcony space. Emporio has a long list of beers on tap and many other drink selections, and with the meatball menu being just the right size for small bites, Emporio is sure to be a to-go place for summer happy hours.