It was Father's Day, so this place was reserved out. However, looking around, it was trendy cool organic food grown local where you can see the chefs cooking. The place is small, so call ahead and reserve.
Sarducci's is a Montpelier institution; those of us who live here almost always see people we know whenever we're dining there. It's in a long, low building on the edge of the Winooski River, and the side facing the river has a narrow sort of enclosed porch with windows facing the river (in summer, the windows are opened and it almost constitutes "outdoor seating"). It has wood floors, low light, many cozy corners, and the decor fits the theme of fine Italian food. They have many excellent pasta dishes, small pizzas (cooked in their wood-fired oven, into which one can see from many parts of the restaurant), and classics such as pollo parmigiana. There is always a basket of excellent bread to start with, along with garlic and olive oil, and there are several salads and other appetizers to choose from. Along with whatever the soup of the day happens to be, you can always get minestrone. There are different specials every day for appetizers, pasta, main dishes, drinks, and wines by the glass. The menu is not overly large, but what is there is excellent (the wine selection is quite good as well).
Sarducci's can get quite busy, and they do not take reservations. You need to show up, give a name, and perhaps wait. Getting there early (say, at 5:00 p.m. on a weekday) can mean sitting down right away. Getting there in the middle of the dinner rush (especially on weekends) can involve waiting for 45 to 90 minutes. A good strategy is to walk in and give a name, then take a stroll down Main Street if you must wait. The atmosphere of the place therefore changes as well: if you're looking for a quiet dinner for two, show up either early or late, and make it a weekday. If you're looking for a lively, hearty place where you can laugh with family and friends, go on a Friday or Saturday night.
Sarducci's also has a full bar, and you can sometimes eat there if you just can't wait for a table.
Favorite Dish: I'm very fond of the pizzas at Sarducci's, which are a decent size for one person (about 10 inches), quite inexpensive (most are under $10), and quick to arrive (if you're completely starving when you sit down, this is the entree that can arrive most quickly at your table). The pizzas are baked in the brick oven over a wood fire; the crust is thin and crispy. Being a lover of meats, I usually get the Siciliana, which has bacon and sausage with mozarella and red sauce (a similar selection, the Roma, includes prosciutto [and possibly pepperoni] in the mix). There are less heavy options, too, like pizzas with sun-dried tomato, ones that include broccoli and spinach, some with garlic oil instead of red sauce, and at least one with pesto. Sarducci's isn't exactly a pizza place, but I find myself ordering pizza probably half the time I go there.
Although this place is certainly cute--it has a great little sidewalk patio and the inside is decorated very well--the food isn't that great. Most of the stuff we tried had little or no flavor and was either drowning in grease or covered in so much cheese that you couldn't tell what it was anyway. Everything was much too bland and unhealthy. The bar here looks really nice though, and would probably be a good place to sit and have a drink with a friend. They also have free wireless if you want to drink by yourself.
Having something to celebrate we had an intimate dinner at the Chef's Table. This is a teaching restaurant of the New England Culinary Institute, one of America's leading training grounds for tomorrow's celebrity chefs.
Here you get haute cuisine (no big portions!) for a reasonable price, prepared and served by students of the NECI. For appetizer, entree and sweets we paid about USD 40 a head, exclusive of wine.
The menus change with the seasons, also the students are encouraged to develop there own dishes.
The NECI also runs a bakery and grill in Montpelier, and a restaurant in Essex Junction. See their website.
Very nice restaurant; Great Italian decor with the grape vines and the wine baskets.
It was casual dress but not tee-shirt clientel. It was family friendly with highchairs and booster seats available. The hostess seats you, the waitress takes your order and the busboy helps with the serving and cleanup.
The menu is primarily Italiano. You can have a full seven-course meal or go ala carte.
We took salads and main dish and skipped all the antipasto and soups and appetizers.
The ravioli formaggi was good (cheese stuffed pastas with artichoke in wine sauce) and also the capellini della mare (thin spaghetti with marinara and garlic sauce). They offer vinegar and wine dressings (my favorite) with the salads, which are larger than most restaurants.
The prices were reasonable for dinner of this caliber; under twenty dollars per person including meal, coffee, dessert and tip. We shared a New York cheesecake slice with strawberry drizzle.
Favorite Dish: anything italian is good at this restaurant.
Good quality Italian food housed in an old railway building. This restaurant is extremely busy when the politicians are in town. Several tables had been put together for large groups and when we were there you could overhear caucus groups deep in discussion at the tables alongside you. It may be best for you to book a table or risk not being able to get in.