If you’re lucky, you have a neighborhood restaurant that can be counted on time after time to provide delicious food and warm, friendly service. You might stop there for a Friday night meal, a graduation party, the end of year PTO dinner, or other events. No matter when you visit, you know that the food and service will leave you feeling satisfied. For us, that neighborhood favorite is Tarantella Ristorante in Medford.
With every exiting patron who comes complete with requisite doggie bag, you will immediately be privy to the portion sizes that await you at Tarantella. You have been warned, avoid wearing those pants that are a little (shall we say) snug in the waist before chowing down here. Your meal will begin with a small lagniappe of bruschetta. After ordering, the bread basket will arrive with some addictively tasty little knots of bread (not garlic knots, but close) and a bit of Italian bread. All entrees come with a house salad, too.
When we dined at Tarantella on a recent Friday night, my husband ordered a chicken cacciatore dish that was a bonanza of juicy chicken pieces, red sauce, and glistening red and green peppers. I chose the lobster manicotti special-three tantalizing tubes stuffed with lobster meat and ricotta cheese, topped with three large shrimp (as if the manicotti by itself was not enough). Both dishes tasted like they had been slow simmered in sauce and were very flavorful. True to form, both of us walked out with portions of our meal wrapped to go.
Of course, we eyed the desserts when we sat down, since we were seated right by the dessert case. While they looked very tempting, we had no more room left at meal’s end-but they were tantalizing eye candy just the same.
One of the nicest things about Tarantella is the welcome that is provided. Sal (the owner) is ever present in the dining room and always makes the rounds to make sure that everyone is enjoying their meal. Even though he has been in the restaurant business for 43 years, the warm smile on his face makes diners feel as though they have joined him on opening night. Tarantella’s servers are gracious as well-they have a knack of making diners feel attended to, yet not rushed.
The restaurant does a great job of keeping service moving (without rushing patrons). So if you show up and there is a bit of a wait, know that you should not have to wait very long and that the meal will be worth waiting for. And about those tight pants that you decided to wear? Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.
Tarantella Ristorante is located at the intersection of Route 70 and Hartford Road in the Medford Plaza Shopping Center (609) 714-9000. http://www.tarantellaristorante.com/
Tarantella has a sister restaurant (Femmina Italian Grill) located at 408 Stokes Road in Medford (609) 714-8800.
Beth Christian subsisted primarily on cheeseburgers and liverwurst sandwiches during childhood and refused to try most new foods. Her culinary horizons were expanded during her college days in Schenectady, New York, where she learned the joys of trying slow-simmered Italian dishes, Szechuan cuisine, and everything in between. When not engaged in the practice of law in Monmouth County, Beth is busy scouting out interesting restaurants, farmer’s markets and food purveyors near her home in Burlington County. Beth’s primary dining sidekick is her husband John, but she also enjoys having her daughter Meghan, son Michael and her wonderful friends come along for the ride. Email Beth at BChristian@JerseyBites.com