Diner: Romance alla Germano's

Intimate setting and classic Italian cuisine provide the perfect atmosphere

If only he had known in advance. "Had I known, I would have brought you flowers," were his exact words. Not that the evening needed more romantic sentiments. Dinner at Germano's provides plenty of romance and classic Italian dining for an unforgettable evening. But a couple of simple, red roses from my husband would have made the evening an official "date."

We really shouldn't have been surprised, however, by Germano's ability to impress. We had been told by numerous friends to expect an enjoyable evening and fantastic meal. Even those who believed Germano's was still at its former location in Springdale (it moved to Montgomery nearly four years ago) raved about their experiences there.

The Germano family only enhanced this traditional dining experience when they moved in 1996 from a converted gas station to the heart of Old Montgomery. Although the new location offers more space and more visibility, rooms are arranged in cozy settings of tables and booths, retaining the intimacy of the first location.

Tables are lined with traditional white linens, and heavy velvet drapes separate rooms, creating a classic feel.

When we arrived, there were a few couples waiting for tables, but our reservation allowed us to be seated immediately. Our server gave us time for a leisurely review of the menu and wine list before she presented the evening's specials — several selections, including a mixed grill, and a sautéed scallop choice. She also provided several wine recommendations, all very moderately priced.

My attention immediately turned to the selection of antipasti, including the Mozzarella Caprese ($8.95), one of my favorite choices. Described here as slices of Roma tomatoes topped with fresh Mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, muffaletta and bread, I considered it for my meal. But because there were four of us, the server recommended having the kitchen prepare a "sampler" antipasti platter of the Crostini Con Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto ($10.95.) The platter consisted of crostini topped with imported mustards, salmon, fresh mozzarella, and Prosciutto, garnished with chilled prawns — more than four of us could finish. Although it was beautifully arranged, it didn't seem to suit our tastes, and all of us were disappointed we had passed on the other selections.

Our salads were a fresh mix, topped with homemade dressings. The house, a garlic Ranch, was creamy and flavorful, but not too strong. Italian bread and light, extra virgin olive oil was a nice complement.

All of us agonized over our entrée selections. Although the menu is fairly simple, with three or four choices each of pasta, pollo (chicken), vitello (veal), pesce (seafood) or manzo (beef), each is uniquely prepared, not simply a repeat of the previous category. The Sogliola Imbottita, Piccata ($19.95), crabmeat stuffed sole topped with lemon white wine sauce, and the simple, classic Capellini Aglio & Olio ($13.95), angel hair tossed with olive oil, garlic cloves, mushrooms, onions, asparagus, artichoke hearts and tomatoes, both caught my eye as they were served to our neighbors.

Our selections varied, however. The sautéed scallops special ($24.95) consisted of six, huge, delicious sea scallops served over a bed of angel hair, sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Our guest raved about it — and now that I think about it — didn't even offer to share.

My husband and second guest both chose the Pollo A La Bolognese ($19.95). The boneless chicken breast was very moist and tender, rolled in bread crumbs and baked, topped with prosciutto and mozzarella, served with fresh steamed vegetables (more than my husband would ever eat, so I helped him finish) and fettuccini al Pomodoro (tomato sauce). Both were very pleased with their selections.

Not much of a meat-eater myself, I chose the only meatless entrée on the menu: Gnocchi Al Pomodoro Con Basilico ($15.95). Although I've typically found gnocchi to be somewhat bland when I've tried it at other restaurants, Germano's version was excellent. The Italian potato dumplings were tossed in a flavorful tomato and basil sauce and topped with Parmesan cheese.

Our server returned to tempt us with her dramatic descriptions of "Mrs. Germano's" homemade desserts, of which we chose the Tiramisu ($4.95), Spumoni ice cream ($3.50) and a Chocolate Bomb ($4.95), a dense chocolate torte coated in rich chocolate sauce. Too much to finish, but worth the extra calories. Had we better planned our feast, we would have saved room for one of the many cafe espresso or cappuccino coffees, or after-dinner cordials offered.

Germano's intimate setting and classic Italian cuisine provide the perfect atmosphere for an unforgettable date. With huge portions that may be split for a small fee, a couple could easily share an entrée. Remember to make reservations, perhaps requesting one of the intimate, secluded booths. Save room for the Tiramisu with a grappe — and flowers never hurt. ©


Go: 9415 Montgomery Road Montgomery

Call: 513-794-1155

Hours: Lunch: Monday—Friday 11:30 a.m.—2 p.m.

Dinner: Monday—Thursday 5:30—9:30 p.m.

Friday 5:30—10 p.m.

Saturday 5-10 p.m.

Prices: Moderate to expensive.

Payment: Major credit cards accepted. Reservations accepted for dinner.

Vegetarian Friendliness: Modified pasta selections or a Caesar salad.

Other Information: Entire restaurant is smoke-free.

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