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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Saturday Night Taste Test: Red Sauce Ristorante

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, August 27, 2006

Red Sauce Ristorante opened for business after extensive building and grounds renovations.
North Adams - All the recent dining out associated with "work" and not "play" can pose challenges rather quickly.

I mean, suddenly 6:30 p.m. on any given Saturday means time to punch in, read another menu, ask some more questions, take a few photos and then write about what you wrote about last week.

With pizzazz, please.

How many ways are there to say "I enjoyed the meal," or even maybe "not so much."?

"Tasty," "Delicious," "Made My Taste Buds Dance"....

If you elect to dine at the Red Sauce Ristorante, you will likely discover many, many ways to describe good food.


Bruschetta appetizer
This Ashland Street restaurant grabbed my attention and kept it from the moment I stepped inside. I did not "wait" for each course, after experiencing the exceptionally well done bruschetta appetizer, I eagerly anticipated the rigatoni with chicken and broccoli entree. My made-on-the-premises cannoli dessert lived up to our server's promise of "delicious." And Sarah, the server, was a friendly person who seemed to have mastered the timing involved with the serving of each course.

I've said it before and I will say it again; serving staff can make or break a restaurant. Sarah was an example of service excellence.

At Red Sauce, the pleasure of dining captivated the evening.

I was relieved to learn that rumors of the restaurant closing are untrue, in reality, the eatery is now open seven days a week.

Very Well Done

The first thing that strikes anyone who ever stepped inside the former neighborhood bar prior to restaurant owner and chef Eddie Ceccherini's intervention is the absolute transformation of the space.

The long bar is polished and the wood seemed to glow; the main dining area is painted with warm, desert tones and the floor is covered with a terracotta-colored ceramic tile. Walls of a smaller, but by no means tiny, dining area are coated with shades of soft green and the space was brightened by yellow table coverings.

On Aug. 26, miniature pink carnations surrounded by baby's breath were slipped into glass vases and set atop dining tables. A beautifully-designed wine rack is visible and is meant to be part of the decor. The interior space cannot be described as even a shadow of its former self; the renovations, in my opinion, represent a make-over that truly turned a gloomy sow's ear into a charming silk purse.

The restaurant exterior was not ignored; the landscaping is lush and the lighting is warm and inviting. There is adequate parking behind the building. The grounds are neat, tidy, and attractive.

For that alone, city residents should be delighted with Ceccherini, but the former Boston Ritz-Carlton sous chef brought more to the business. He created a well-rounded menu. He prepares foods that live up to expectations.

Appetizers And Entrees

The previously mentioned bruschetta appetizer [$5.95] I ordered was really, really good. The thin garlic toast rounds held their crispness despite the generous amount of chopped, fresh tomato [with virgin olive oil] perched on top. The flavor was as close to perfect as I've tasted.

The six-shrimp shrimp cocktail my husband ordered [large poached-and-iced shrimp served with lemon wedge and cocktail sauce, $11.95]drew praise for taste and texture from my husband despite the high price.

Linguine with Woodbury clams of Wellfleet entree


"The cost of fuel is driving up the prices," he explained to me. "Especially the cost of fuel on water [meaning purchased at or near a dock]."

Additional appetizers include parmesan garlic bread [$4.95], fried calamari [$7.95], Sicilian calamari [$8.95], shrimp scampi [$9.95], and parmigiana a la meatballs [$6.95].

My entree [$11.95] was ordered from a pasta menu that included cheese-filled tortellini with pesto cream [$9.95], baked ravioli [$9.95], fettucine Jesse [$10.95], spaghetti puttanesca [$10.95], spaghetti bolognese [$11.95], and Italian Rice [risotto, $12.95].

The pasta menu also included linguine with Woodbury clams of Wellfleet [$15.50], which was my husband's meal and my great pleasure to sample. The linguine was cooked to perfection and the white wine and garlic sauce was laden with clams. The meal may be ordered with red sauce if desired.

My meal was a mixture of firm pasta, crisp broccoli and chicken breast chunks [$11.95] so tender that a fork's touch caused the meat to separate. Every bite was flavor-filled.


Rigatoni with chicken and broccoli entree
Meal specials are offered; during our visit, the evening special menu promoted a grilled 14-ounce pork chop with tomato, fennel, garlic and rosemary served with pasta for $15.95 and seafood risotto, made with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and calamari for $16.95.

Desserts

There were no dessert disappointments.

My husband ordered the "turtle cheesecake [$4.95]," which was, of course, cheesecake with caramel. He is a kind and generous man who allowed my fork to bounce back and forth between his cheesecake and my cannoli at will, although I could tell he really wanted that cheesecake all for himself. And I confess that I did not permit much access to my cannoli -I wanted that to myself.

Tiramisu, a flour-free treat named "choclate decadence," and spumoni round out dessert selections.

Cannoli is made at the restaurant's kitchen.


Tasty Delights

Not on the menu but delivered to our table were four complimentary deep-fried risotto balls. These tasty little delights were a supremely appreciated addition to our meal and I am urging Ceccherini to consider including the savory treats on any new menu he creates, or add it to the existing choices.

The restaurant salad menu includes "Mama C's" family antipasto salad [$12.95], tomato "Mattonella" salad made with tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella cheese, cucumber, and sweet onion with extra virgin olive oil [$8.95], King Caesar salad [$6.95], arugula and shaved parmesan salad [$7.95], and House Salad [$4.95].

Meat and vegetable entrees include eggplant parmigiana [$10.95], chicken parmigiana [$12.95], veal parmigiana [$15.95], beef pizzaiola [$18.95], shrimp scampi [$18.95], seafood fra diavlo [$19.95], and several other meals.

The red and white wine lists offer a nice selection of both; specific varieties of red wine are sold by the glass [$5-$5.50] and by the bottle priced between $20 and $80. Selections of white wine sell for $5 t0 $5.25 per glass and bottles are offered at prices of $20-$36. Several varieties of champagne and sparkling wine are sold by the bottle and priced from $24 to $68.

Bottled beer, draft beer, and grappa are also sold on the premises.

Our bill for a three-course meal before adding the state meals tax was $62.70.

Bring It

Red Sauce Ristorante is one of the "new kids" on the region's restaurant block. I believe the restaurant is a must-visit. Be sure to bring your appetite.

The only way this eatery is likely to disappoint is if it is closed.

Red Sauce Ristorante is located at 136 Ashland St. in North Adams. Hours are Mon.-Thurs. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 5 p.m.-10 p.m., and Sun. 4 p.m. to 8 p.m..

Reservations may be made by calling 413-662-2200.

The restaurant offers take-out service.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or 802-823-9367.
Your Comments
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My husband and I used to frequent this restaurant. We had an extemely bad experience with Jesse as a waiter (I did not know at the time he was the owners son) - who was extremely rude and insulting - I spoke with Mrs. Ceccherini at the time and she said "Im sure he didn't mean it." I was surprised that she took this attitude; but it makes sense now that I know he is her son. Since this incident we have gone in and requested that we not have Jesse as a waiter. This weekend, on a Friday night, we came in - after Mrs. Ceccherini asked us "for two?" My husband replied "Yes, not Jesse" to which she quickly turned around, and said quite rudely "Well I can't guarantee that so if you don't like it you can just leave." and turned and left!!! I was absoluely shocked!!! I could not believe that in this economy a restaurant owner would tell someone that they could go elsewhere just because we didn't want their son as a waiter! My husband and I turned to leave; but I went back in to tell her how upsetting it was *(please note I was not rude, yelling or in anyway disrespectful.I was simply very surprised at her attitude) and - after being ignored for a while at the door; Mr. Ceccherini came by and asked if he could help. I started to tell him what had happened and his wife came over. He asked me what Jesse had done in the past and I told him that he had been extremely rude and we simply did not want him as a waiter, he explained that Jesse was his son and Mrs. Ceccherini said "well if you would have asked differently." My husband said it was a shame that their restaurant had to suffer because of their sons' attitude. We will never go here again. As stated in the article above good waitstaff is critical...unfortunately this restaunt fails miserably in this area and has lost two customers forever.
from: Disappointedon: 11-13 00:00:00-2009

Went on a Saturday evening after reading reviews. Very disappointing. Immediately upon walking inside, witnessed a waitress talking about someone "pissing me off". Our waitress seemed to be just getting through her shift, with little attention to us, no smiles, no refilling of water glasses. The meal was oversalted, the cannoli filling lacking any flavor at all.
from: disappointed dineron: 02-24 00:00:00-2008

I have eaten at Red Sacue on about 6 occasions and have always had a great experience even with a party of twelve. The calamari is cooked to perfection as was all the pasta dishes we tried. Although dinner does not include salad if you order the house salad it is plenty for two.
from: adamsiteon: 10-17 00:00:00-2007

The resturant served chicken parm however the chicken was raw in the middle. The waitress just laughed it off, the chef shrugged his shoulders, and the hostess was extremely rude as I said I would not be paying for my meal or eating there ever again. There was never an apology or an attempt to fix the problem. All that their red sauce does is cover up their raw meat.
from: Local Reporteron: 04-26 00:00:00-2007

My best friend and I had dinner here recently and were pleasantly surprised how wonderful everything was. At no point did we feel "rushed". The Hostess and especially our waitress were very gracious and friendly and made us feel comfortable without being condescending. She was also prompt and attentive without being pushy. The place is atmospheric and cozy as well. Please stay around for a long time, Red Sauce. We WILL be back.
from: Timon: 02-24 00:00:00-2007

We went on a Saturday night and were totally disappointed that we made the trek from central county. We didn't even set two feet inside the door when the hostess rushed us to a table in the back,small room which doesn't have the ambiance of the other larger, main room. The service was rushed and food tasteless and minimal. We vowed not to return or to recommend to anyone. A very disappointing visit for sure.
from: Kateon: 09-14 00:00:00-2006

I've eaten at Red Sauce many times and never been disappointed. Chef Eddie creates dishes with wonderful flavors that you won't experience at chain restaurants. Save room form dessert!!
from: the bankeron: 09-13 00:00:00-2006


 
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