Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Odeon Cafe Food Review

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Odeon Cafe has been around for what seems like forever, dishing out old school Italian fare for more than a quarter century. It can't be easy, given Dupont Circle's many other Italian options (including two major players within half a block of Odeon.) That said, it's hard not to feel "at home," inside Odeon's open-air, lower level dining area... especially on a busy Friday or Saturday night.

It's been years since my last visit; but to it's credit, Odeon doesn't feel or look dated. Service is old school, professional and attentive: I like that a lot. The food (at least classic items like pizza and spaghetti & meatballs) perhaps not so much. When we arrived, the restaurant was empty; yet, one of the servers sat a table of four directly next to us, forcing us to move to a table in the back. Even with 50+ feet between us, we could hear that noisy foursome throughout the duration of our lunch. Imagine how loud they would have sounded, mere inches away?

Pizza "Sausage, Sausage"

To be fair, sitting in the back allows a great view of the spacious lower level, while preserving some level of intimacy. We ordered a Pizza "Sausage, Sausage" for $11.95 and a bowl of Spaghetti & Meatballs for $12.95. FYI, prices for both dishes were a dollar higher than their listed prices online: I hate that. Kudos for two complimentary warm rolls, served with a housemade salsa in lieu of butter or olive oil. Delicious and (did I mention?) free.

My water glass was refilled often (more kudos) and our food arrived in a timely manner. The pizza actually boasts sausage and pepperoni, which is a bit misleading, but not that big a deal. Crust was good (not too crispy, not too soft) with an average amount of toppings, nice cheese and salty/shiny tomato sauce. The sausage was tasty, although not exactly zesty: It was also authentic (not store-bought) which is a lot more than I can say for the meatballs.

Elegant Dining Room
Unfortunately, the Spaghetti & Meatballs was a real disappointment. Not the pasta mind you, which was hot & properly cooked (al dente) but rather the meatballs. In search of hand-rolled, authentic meatballs? Look elsewhere, I'm afraid. The six tiny balls on this plate were bland (no visible seasoning whatsoever) and looked/tasted straight out of a bag. Not what I expected to find at an older establishment such as Odeon.

The best part of our lunch? Odeon's bread and service. Good enough to allow for a return visit (but not too soon) yet not good enough to recommend over nearby La Tomate and Sette Osteria. Here's hoping for fresh meatballs next time.