Sunday, September 21, 2008

Great Food, Slow Service - Nini's Restaurant

After our open house yesterday, a few of us decided to venture into the center of Easthampton to grab a bite for dinner. Italian food was the one thing we could all agree on, so we set our sights on Nini's Restaurant on Cottage Street. Parking is all on-street, which took a little hunting for at 7pm on a Saturday night, but we did manage to find.

Upon entering, we waited about 5 minutes before anyone even acknowledged our presence. It was a busy Saturday night and Nini's doesn't seem to have a dedicated host - just servers who also act as host. Once we did talk to someone, it took another 10 minutes to get a table for 5. Not bad for a Saturday night with no reservation.

When we sat down, again there was a fairly long wait for someone to come to our table. The place was hopping and there were only 2 servers for the 8 full tables that were in our room, plus the bar. The long waits between visits from the server were consistent. 10 minutes to get our water. Another 15 minutes to get the other drinks that had been ordered. Another 10 minutes to take our dinner order. Another 20 minutes for salads to come. Another 30 minutes for food to come. And we had to hunt the server down to ask for a refill on the waters - and eventually for our check.

The long waits didn't bother us too much since the food delivered, but it's something to keep in mind if you have kids or are trying to do something after your dinner. It seems like you need to plan a good 1 1/2 - 2 hours for dinner here.

But as I noted, the food makes up for the longer waits. Each entree comes with a salad and fresh bread with herbed oil for dipping. And the entrees were all heavenly. The eggplant rollatini - breaded eggplant rolled around proscuitto ham and ricotta, smothered in marinara and mozarrella - was absolutley decadent. The rigatoni bolognese was authentic Italian with generous chunks of pork and beef spread through the sauce. And the portions were also quite generous. A couple of people in our group took home doggie bags - and no one made it to dessert.

I felt the prices were also quite reasonable - especially as compared to some other Italian restaurants in the area (2 such Northampton restaurants immediately come to mind). Entrees start at around $10, most are between $12-15, and the most expensive one I saw was a veal dish for $17 (but you shouldn't be eating veal anyway!!!). Nini's also has pizza - which you can order for take out as well. A 14" pizza starts at $14, which again seems reasonable for non-chain pizza.

Overall, I would recommend Nini's for a relaxing, slow-paced dinner when you're happy to sit back with a glass of wine and a loaf of homemade bread and enjoy the company of family and friends.

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