Solita is now Mastino. Have they learned how to cook with the new name?
When I heard that SoLita was opening a location in Delray Beach I was surprised; it didn't seem to me that the concept was working very well on Las Olas, and Delray is even less clubby than Fort Lauderdale. The idea of Italian food in a clubby environment is not unique; in fact the founders of Solita borrowed the idea from a former employer; Cafe Martorano. When the "ultralounge" opened on Las Olas, Thursday was the big night. The crowds have substantially diminished in Fort Lauderdale; seats at the bar have been readily available every time I've stopped in, even on Saturday.
Someone told me that Delray was a hot spot, but I know better than to believe what I hear. I needed a nice place for a dinner date and Italian was the preference; a miscommunication about my first choice. D'Angelo Trattoria led to an evening at SoLita.jump-->
I was exactly on time, but my date, who lives in Delray, was 20 minutes late. (I'm giving her a hard time here...). I didn't want to drink, so I waited outside on a sticky night. During my wait, not one customer entered the restaurant. When we went inside, there were 2 people eating at the bar; they turned out to be the bartenders. We wanted a table; there was one table occupied in the restaurant, so we got a pretty good one.
The decor here is similar to the Las Olas store, a combination of creepy and tacky; there's a mattress with a disco ball hanging in the rafters; dark blackish wallpaper with purplish lighting and big chandeliers hanging at different heights. The bathrooms are black on black on black. A great place for a halloween party.
Solita Delray Inside
When our server came over he asked if we'd been there before "I've been to the Las Olas location", I said. "Oh, so you know how good the food is", he replied. I've gotten pretty good at keeping a straight face during such exchanges, but it isn't easy.
The menu is different from the ones I'd seen before; and different from the one on their web site. Gone are the Jalapeno poppers and stuffed pepper; I'd had the pepper in Fort Lauderdale and it was pretty good. They've replaced the fresh mozzarella with Burrata, which we decided to order as a starter. It took us a while to order; the menu isn't really that appealing. I've had the veal chop parmesan here; it's really big but I'm not crazy about their sauce. It's not very sweet and they load it up with fresh basil. They have a lot of similar dishes; angel hair with tomato sauce, fedelini pomodoro (which is largely the same thing). I was going to have the Tagliatelle Aglio Olio, which is fettucini in garlic and oil to the rest of us; but it's off the menu. They've added an old fave; Oreccheitte (which is easier to spell than pronounce) with sausage and broccoli rabe. I've had some bad ones lately, and at 21.50 it would be the most I'd paid for it. But I really didn't want chicken parm. The girl couldn't find anything she wanted; she convinced our server to create some combination of the angel hair pasta and shrimp risotto.
The burrata was rolled out quicky.
Solita Burrata ($14.50)
The cheese was pretty good, but burrata never seems any better than good, fresh mozzarella at a higher price point. I prefer a nice, ripe tomato to cherry tomatoes, which always taste sour to me. At $14.50 this is an expensive snack.
While our regular server was very good, the busser wasn't so good. We were about 2/3rds done with the cheese and he was ready to take it away. Apparently our main course was ready, so that means that we're done with the appetizer. We had two big bowls coming, so we reluctantly told him to take it away.
Solita broccoli rabe and sausage ($21.50)
This was a big bowl with big chunks of sausage; I tried the rabe and alas, it was overdone. 3 times in a row now. I'm about ready to give up on this dish. The sausage was good; it had to be cut up so I could eat this properly. There were a lot of browned garlic bits, but there was no garlicky sauce. Whoever made this doesn't quite get the dish. It wasn't bad but soggy rabe is always a disappointment.
Solita angel hair past with shrimp ($26)
The angel hair / shrimp concoction was a big soupy mess; the girl seemed to like it. To me, angel hair pasta shouldn't be doused with so much sauce. But that's just a New York way of thinking. As mentioned before, it's loaded up with "fresh" garlic.
Our server, possibly desperate to get a good tip, offered a mini indulgence. My date doesn't like chocolate, so it was all mine.
Solita Mini Indulgence
Pretty good stuff. Too bad I wasn't hungry enough to take more than a couple of tastes.
We were in the restaurant from 8:20 to 10:30 and they had 3 tables the entire evening. No more than 3 people at the bar. We each ate about half of our entree; the buss guy brought out the leftovers in a single bag. I indicated that we weren't married and it would be convenient if we could have separate bags.
When I got the bill, I was thrilled that they charged me $8 for a large bottle of Pellegrino. $10 for a glass of wine is fair; $8 for a bottle of water is a calculated rip off, because they know that you don't know how much it costs in advance. It's the little things that make a difference.
The problem with Solita is that they're not nearly as good as they think they are; their prices are too high for average food despite the large portions, and it's not clear that their "concept" of eating in a swanky place with house music has wide appeal. Maybe this was an off night; although Johnnie Browns was packed and parking was difficult; but it's hard for a restaurant to survive when they barely make enough to cover their electricity bill on a Thursday night.
One thing to note: There's a valet in front of the Siam House, but they don't accept validations from Solita. The valet in the Bru's room parking lot just past the restaurant is the only one that accepts validations from SoLita. So don't use the valet right out in front unless you want to pay an extra $5.