One of us got to Anna Marie’s Italian Cuisine a bit early and had the opportunity to take in the vibe of the tail end of Happy Hour at this neighborhood eatery. During Happy Hour, subtle contemporary, jazzy, rat pack music filled the air but we noticed throughout the evening that the music flowed through a variety of different styles of music that fit the change in clientele as the night went on. We both loved the Happy Hour vibe that allows you to enjoy the music but have a conversation at the same time and once Happy Hour was over, the thoughtful way the music set the mood of a comfortable weeknight meal. This place makes you want to eat but at the same time, you know you can take your time and dine.
We would be remiss if we didn’t share a bit about the sleek and stylish decor that you might find in a hip New York City restaurant. The bar area was comprised of a 15 seat bar surrounding four large TVs that are big enough to allow one eye on the game but not overwhelm the room and make you feel like you are at a sports bar. Two high communal tables complemented the bar area, making the space great for large groups or to act as an extension of the bar. All the décor was unique and one of us could not help but look at every single contemporary light fixture. Each of the four walls was different and begged to be touched; one with abstract tiles that reminded one of us of flat Legos, one with metallic highlights, one with shattered mirrored tiles, one with hip grey wallpaper.
After a long day, it makes sense to treat yourself with an order of garlic knots. It was perfection. We cannot even find the words. The outside was crisp to the bite and as your teeth sink in, the inside is doughy and soft and the kick of garlic fills your mouth. One of us even ate these with a knife and fork so as not to waste any of the garlicky goodness. The other one did not want to dip in the yummy Pomodoro because they were just that good. Do yourself a favor and go get these. Then get in touch with us and tell us how you would describe them.
One of us loves calamari and was pleased with the ample portion offered. The spicy marinara had just enough of a kick and the calamari itself did not have too much breading and was not overly greasy. We both love a Classic Caesar Salad and this did not disappoint. As a classic Caesar should, it was comprised of all the usual suspects, romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmigiano cheese, and real anchovies in the dressing. The dressing made this salad the surprising star of the evening, as it was indulgently creamy and perfectly garlicy. It had a velvety mouth feel, the romaine was perfectly coated, and it remained crisp. One of us thought that the two different forms of Parmigiano, grated and shaved, elevated the salad and added amazing texture as you ate the salad.
One of thought the Penne Pasta with San Marzano tomatoes, simmered with vegetables was cooked perfectly al dente and the tomatoes sauce was bright and fresh. The sauce had just the right amount of acid and just the perfect bite that a red sauce should have. We could not pass up the special of the day, Chicken Verde. Broccoli and cheese topped impeccably tender chicken sautéed in white wine, lemon, and butter sauce. The tartness from the lemon woke up your palette but the smoothness of the butter made it decadent and adding broccoli to a meal always makes one of us feels like we were eating healthy. To make sure we got a few more greens in our meal, we ordered a side of spinach. We were pleasantly surprised that the baby spinach was sautéed with not only olive oil but also whole cloves of garlic and pine nuts and it complemented our chicken entrée nicely.
One of us stays away from pancetta but loves Veal Marsala. Everything is scratch made at Anna Marie’s so this was easily accommodated without losing any flavor. The veal was tender, the Marsala sauce was rich, and had a rustic flavor, coming from the Marsala wine and diced mushrooms...
Speaking of special requests, we were both pleased to see a healthy selection of vegan options on the menu. We had an opportunity to speak with Anna Marie and she told us that based on dietary needs and choices, many guests may not be vegan but do order off this part of the menu and add protein for a healthier dining option. This restaurant knows what their clientele wants and makes sure the flexibility is there.
The answer to pizza is always yes and thank you. They have two pizza ovens, one facing the restaurant, so guests can see all the action of the pizzas going into the wood-fired oven. We ordered the magherita with plum tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil. It was superb. One of us loves tiramisu and the other, cannoli. We asked each other,
Why not get both?
The desserts are imported from Italy and the cannoli might have been as big as our hand. The pastry was
crunchy with sweet cream that was light and fluffy and the crunch of the chocolate chips was just right. The tiramisu was just as tiramisu should be... a pick me up with soft layers of ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese and a light dusting of cocoa powder. With this family owned and operated neighborhood restaurant, you can have Sunday supper with an Italian family every night of the week... and that’s what she said.