April 22nd, 2011

Andiamo Italian Ristorante
1269 Lena Court
Eagan, MN 55122

Splitting holidays between two families is exhausting.

Fortunately, my dad was gracious enough to meet my significant other and I for an early Easter weekend dinner.  I recently purchased a Groupon for Andiamo located in Eagan, in a stripmall adjacent to the Kowalski’s.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so I had to use an iphone to take pictures. Yes, I am aware of the debate regarding Groupon usage hurting or helping restaurants, but in my defense, restaurants should be aware of the benefits and pitfalls of offering Groupons by now.  Plus, I always tip on the bill pre-Groupon and so should you. 

I called Andiamo around 3 p.m. and they were happy to make a 6:30 p.m. reservation which they honored the moment we checked in.  The restaurant was buzzing and walk-in wait times were 35-40 minutes.  I alerted the waitress that we had a Groupon and she did not show any sign of annoyance at the Groupon or that we did not order alcoholic beverages.

Fried calamari with red and yellow peppers, pepperoncini, and spicy marinara, $8

We were all satisfied with the fried calamari.  The batter stuck to the squid and vegetables instead of flaking.  The batter was light, crisp, and was slightly spicy and minimally greasy.  The marinara sauce was chunky and sprinkled with red pepper flakes that weren’t very spicy.  Fried pepperoncini was a bit spicy and the sweet peppers were a nice addition, though soggy.  Overall, Andiamo presented a generously portioned, better than average quality, low-priced version of fried calamari and I would order this again without hesitation.

Garlic bread with mozzerella, $5

An order of garlic bread includes four slices of chewy, toasted bread covered in chopped garlic and melted cheese.  I have no qualms about consuming large quantities of garlic, so I enjoyed the strength of the garlic.  This appetizer tasted good but was otherwise unexciting.  It was like something you could make at home with a loaf of sourdough but I don’t want to be too picky about a $5 appetizer

Chicken Marsala, $11

My order of chicken marsala came with two boneless, skinless breasts of chicken in a marsala sauce covered with quarters of roasted mushrooms.  I chose the side of roasted vegetables instead of garlic mashed potatoes and agree with Bill Roehl’s review that the sauce was entirely too sweet.  However, the chicken was moist, tender and addictive.  I added salt, pepper, and lemon juice with to offset some of the sweetness.  The roasted vegetables included well-cooked and seasoned bell peppers, onions, zucchini and squash.

Prosciutto, pear & gorgonzola pizza with walnuts and raspberry honey, $8

I kept referring to this dish as “candy pizza.”  In theory, I like this pizza, but similar to the chicken marsala, the pizza was ridiculously sweet and dripping with raspberry honey.  The copious amount of honey overpowered the saltiness of the prosciutto and gorgonzola.  I somewhat enjoyed consuming one slice, but one slice only.  The pizza would be better with less honey, or even a drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar.  My significant other abandoned the leftovers this week which is a rare occurrence.

Salmon con Spinacio, $15

I only tasted a few bites of this dish but enjoyed it enough to consider ordering it next time.  The salmon was seared on the outside and did not taste fishy.  I enjoyed the lemon sauce and sauteed spinach on top.  My dad said he was not a fan of capers but ate everything so they must have not been overwhelming.  My only quibble is that I usually like my salmon on the rarer side.  Fortunately, my dad likes everything well done.  
Cannoli, $7

Above is a mangled plate of two, large cannoli atop warm chocolate sauce.  The cannoli shells themselves were crispy and delicious.  The cream inside the shells was pasty/grainy, but I liked the bits that included small bits of candied orange peel.  The chocolate sauce was a bit gloppy and overwhelming, but didn’t prevent me from finishing my portion of the dessert.

Tiramisu, $6

The tiramisu arrived in a large bowl and was covered in some sort of chocolate crumbly material.  I usually don’t like tiramisu but we all agreed that this was one of the best versions we have tasted.  All of the flavors and elements seemed to be balanced.  It didn’t have too much cream, too much rum, too much sogginess, etc.

In conclusion, I enjoyed our dinner at Andiamo.  I would not order the pizza or chicken marsala the next visit, but feel the food is worthy enough to return.  I was able to make last-minute reservations for a Friday night, the service was welcoming, and the prices were affordable.  Andiamo is a decent S. Metro option for homey, non-chain Italian food.  If you live in the area, Andiamo’s is a nice option to add to your list but I wouldn’t consider it a destination restaurant.  

P.S. House wine is $4 a glass.  I will be back for this.