Undeterred, we changed plans, and dined at a different Italian eatery that night, but made a mental note to try Osteria Natalina some time in the future. The future arrived last night.
After checking the restaurant's hours, we pulled in to the parking lot a little after 5:30 with appetites that were raring to dine.
We were again met with a locked door. We could see a couple of people inside, but a locked door is, well, a locked door. We began walking away, but just then we heard the rattle of a door being unlocked. Well, alrighty then!
A head poked out and a gruff voice bellowed, "We open in five minutes." The door slammed shut. What we should have done, and did consider doing, was just to keep walking.
While waiting for this special door to re-open we struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was also waiting. That helped pass the time until the "holiest" of food doors opened again...fifteen minutes later.
Mr. Grumpy, apparently the owner and gate keeper, inquired how many. We said just two, and our new friend said he was one of a party of six. Were were told to enter. The gentleman was denied entry until all six in the party showed up. There would be no waiting at a table until the others arrived, and that was final!
My bride and I were guided to a small table for two and presented with menus and water. We had our server's undivided attention since we were the only customers who were allowed in up to that point, so service was good.
We ordered a wine by the glass - a tasty Sangiovese. In addition, we chose to start with two appetizers. For the Belle of Ballast Point, Il Carpaccio Fresco di Tonno, a yellowfin tuna carpaccio.
My, oh, my, was that carpaccio ever...awful! It was drowning in a sea of lemon juice that totally masked any flavor that tuna may have had. To add insult to injury, the onions hadn't been completely peeled, and still retained some papery skin.
I fared much better with my ubiquitous appetizer of Le Cozze All A Cappa Style, black mussels in a red sauce. This dish was good, just nothing to gush over.
For our entrées we chose the Four Cheese Pear Pasta Purses (Sacatini) with Walnuts and Gorgonzola Cream Sauce for her, and the Mixed Grill for me. The Mixed Grill consisted of a couple of slices of filet mignon, veal, and a couple of Italian sausage patties.
I'd love to wax poetic about our food and experience at Osteria Natalina, but that won't be happening. This was the most disconcerting dining experience we have ever had. There was no warmth or friendliness. There were no smiles or friendly greetings. There just seemed to be an air of negativity that was very off-putting - starting with the Guardian at the Gate...