The Other Italian

Posted January 15, 2009 in Eats

Claremont’s Village West continues to add new sights and sounds to an already crammed area of unique dining and shopping experiences. Though the now-eastern portion of the Village has maintained its well-deserved presence throughout its decades-long existence, it’s not shocking to discover that a west-side restaurant like La Parolaccia’s fast become a busy spot, as Village vets migrate across Indian Hill to indulge in the locale’s latest wares. (Quick note: That’s La Parolaccia—not the other Italian restaurant, La Piccoleta, across the street. Don’t mix up your Italian haunts.)


When we arrived, several parties were waiting both inside and outside on the sidewalk. There’s not much room inside to hang around, so reservations are recommended for quick seating, as to avoid milling about a crowded entry. 


Once seated, know this: Every meal at La Parolaccia launches with a superior start. A small loaf of fresh sliced bread is served with an absolutely stupendous sauce that appears simple—marinara-like, with some garlic and other terrific gems . . . it would make for a good variation for a bruschetta topping—but offers a decidedly sophisticated taste. The friendly servers are glad to reload the table with bread and sauce while you’re waiting for your order. We know. We took advantage of it. Three times.


An on-menu appetizer was ordered, the parmigiana di melanzane e zucchini (translation: roasted eggplant and zucchini, baked with mozzarella and tomato sauce), but there’s no review of it, since it never arrived. We didn’t bother to remind the otherwise extremely attentive server, since snacking on the bread and sauce combo just about erased the fact that the appetizer had been ordered from our memory, too. We weren’t charged for it, so we thought—eh, no harm, no foul.


Though it’d be customary to embark on a pasta dish at an Italian restaurant, we opted to work off the beaten path—or palate—and see what else this newly minted establishment (open now for a mere few months) could provide. Enter a pair of specials, including a nicely grilled steak and a plate of halibut with a creamy saffron surround, both served with vegetables and potatoes.


The steak, requested medium well, was properly prepared and correctly portioned. Tough yet tasty, it made for a perfect match with the accompanying sides. The halibut was gorgeously presented, with its sauce nicely lapping the perimeter of the fish. It was good in the mouth, too, if just a smidge on the dry side. This was bolstered by the potatoes and steamed vegetables, which blended well with the main course and balanced out any deficiencies. 


Each of these selections landed north of $20—not outrageous—but sticking with the on-menu entrées will reveal many more affordable choices. The total bill can be quite reasonable if you don’t mingle with the restaurant’s appetizers and desserts. And that’s exactly where a serious conundrum came up: The desserts are simply way too appetizing to pass up. The tiramisu, in all its succulent richness, is a perfectly balanced masterpiece. As for the cannoli, it reigns supreme, with all its creamy wonder baked in a tight, tantalizing roll. Rewarding to your sweet tooth, yes, but a bit costly too—each dessert runs seven-and-a-half bucks. If you’re like us, the stomach overrules such decision-making authority by a long shot—and it was well worth the splurge.


La Parolaccia, as the restaurant’s website explains, means “the bad language.” But there’s not a foul word to be uttered about this dining experience. In fact, being the newcomer to the Claremont Village they have all the elements of a successful restaurant already in play—service, food, ambiance. We, for one, are happy to welcome it to the neighborhood.


La Parolaccia Osteria, 201 N. Indian Hill Blvd., Claremont, (909) 624-1516; V, MC, AE



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