Visited with Erin's family on Sunday, January 9th
December was a bit of a whirlwind in our household. We normally go out to eat for birthdays, but due to the epic event that was my sister's wedding on December 18th, her honeymoon fell over my birthday. Thus, I was forced to postpone my Birthday Dinner. I had chosen Scusi since I knew the other Blue Plate restaurants we've been to have been solid and they are typically pretty child friendly.
Scusi was packed when we got there at 5:30, I was definitely glad we had made reservations earlier. There were several other babies in the house, too, so that was comforting. It's a very cozy space, and I really liked the open kitchen. The server greeted us immediately, and went through some spiel about how Scusi is doing a family plates "concept" - I wasn't quite sure what this meant, but when I hear family style, I think large portions of food that everyone shares.
We picked a half carafe of wine to share between Ben and I (honestly I don't even remember the kind of wine beyond red), and also munched on the crackers and bean dip, which were totally addicting. Annie was a big fan of those as well. They have water in bottles on each table, which feels classy, but it's easy to go through those pretty quickly when you consume water at the rate that I do.
It took us awhile to figure out what to order, but we finally came to a consensus after the server told us we should order at least one dish per person. I wasn't sure if that was the typically upselling, so we did go with 6 dishes for the 6 of us, that Ben details below, but I think we should have gotten one more. Each dish actually seemed smaller than a normal entree, so maybe calling these small plates to share would be more accurate.
I really liked the food, but serving myself and making sure to keep Annie fed and happy is clouding my memory of the specific dishes. I know that she liked the salmon best, and my favorite was probably the sausage pizza or shrimp ravioli. The only dish I noticed her intentionally dropping on the floor was the lamp pappardelle, but I don't think I'd take that as any reflection on the dish :)
There were only a few dessert options, but they were all very enticing - it was a tough decision, but luckily for once Ben agreed to order his own dessert so I could have some of his too. I went with the warm apple cake and vanilla ice cream, which was delicious and made me feel warm and toasty on that freezing winter night! Ben's chocolate cake was a winner as well. I'd love to go back to Scusi, especially during the day (or when it's lighter outside after 4pm at least) to see the space in daylight.
Ben's ReviewWe had a belated birthday dinner for Erin with her parents, sister, and new brother in law this past Sunday. Erin settled on the new restaurant Scusi in Saint Paul, owned by the Blue Plate Restaurant Company that also owns some of our favorite places like Highland Grill and Longfellow Grill.
Scusi is located in the old Heartland space at Fairview and St. Clair, which they occupied before moving to their new location in Lowertown. The interior of Scusi is small and cozy, much like you’d expect from an Italian, family style restaurant and we were greeted warmly by the hostess and our server. While I didn’t face the kitchen from my seat, you can get a clear view of the work area, which I like. For some reason it makes the food seem more authentic if you can see them making it. But, you can also see the people at McDonalds make your Big Mac, so what does that tell you?
Our server recommended to us that we order family style and share everything. We were welcome to order individually, but they would bring the food out as it was ready, so it was likely we wouldn’t be eating at the same time as everyone else at the table. Ok, that’s no problem, we can order family style. We looked over the menu for a bit and asked the server how many entrees we should order, two? three? No, we should order one for each person she said. We settled on five entrees and a pizza, thinking that should be fine.
The pizza came out first and it was fantastic. Easily the best part of the meal, and the biggest portion. Erin had ordered the special that day which had sausage and some other vegetables on it, but the best part was the copious amounts of cheese on the pizza, it was awesome. After the pizza came out the five entrees came at close to the same time. Our five entrees were:
I’m not going to go over each one of these in detail, but suffice to say that while they all tasted great, the serving sizes were small. As each entree was brought to the table, we would each take a small serving and pass the dish around, and nearly every entree only had enough for a rather small serving each. This is in stark contrast to most restaurants where the portion sizes are so large that you leave feeling ill.
Because it was Erin’s birthday we obviously got dessert, I choose the chocolate cake with scoop of vanilla ice cream, hard to go wrong with that, and this didn’t disappoint. Funnily enough, the piece of cake was rather large, so I didn’t leave hungry :)
Scusi was good, but if we go back I will stick to the pizza, it was the best tasting and best value they’ve got.
Service: Service was good, we felt welcome and everyone was friendly.
Food: The food tasted excellent but the portions were small. The pizza was my favorite.
Drinks: Scusi has several different wine portions to order from, which was great. This way you didn’t have to choose between a glass or bottle of wine.
Ambiance: Friendly, cozy atmosphere. It was also very warm.
Convenience: A small parking lot out back, otherwise it’s on street parking. Not a huge deal in this area.