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Francesca's

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Francesca's

Postby MadMind75 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:35 am

So, is anyone anticipating Francesca's (full name of Francesca's Al Lago Italian Trattoria according to visitdowntownmadison.com) coming to downtown Madison?
Related article Aug 27, 2009

They're opening on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, between Starbucks and The Ocean Grill. Why did I think that they were planning to open in the old Peppino's space?

The Firing Up Francesca's article from December 7, 2009 says the Madison location plans to open in March (this month). That still going to happen?
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Re: Francesca's

Postby wallrock » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:59 am

I went to the Francesca's on Bryn Mawr a while back and thought it was pretty decent. I'll freely admit that I'm no judge of Italian restaurants, but the pasta that I had tasted just fine to me and the atmosphere was friendly and fun.

I wouldn't say I'm anticipating it or anything, but I do think it's kind of interesting that Madison is the first non-Chicagoland location they're attempting.
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Re: Francesca's

Postby shyguy » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:24 pm

We had a family birthday this past Saturday at a Francesca's in Oak Lawn, Illinois. It was very nice, good value, lots of things we liked - altho some, like the bartender and waitress, may be more specific to that location that the "chain" as a whole.

The concept has a relatively short menu, 6-8 pastas and 6-8 entrees, handwitten menu. Apparently they change the menu once a month or so. They call it Northern Italian - no lasagnas, no baked pasta dishes dripping with sauce and cheese, etc. There were three nice fish entrees for us, I had the mahi-mahi which had a caper sauce with artichokes. There was a salmon altho I don't remember the sauce exactly but had calamari in it. There were some vegetarian dishes, a wild mushroom penne, some kind of pasta with a lobster sauce, one pasta with scallops and spinach in a creamy tomato sauce. There was a pork chop dish, and a couple chicken dishes.

Anyway, I'm not the stickler I know many who visit this site are, but the place was reasonable (all entrees under $21, several under $15), a decent wine list, nice atmosphere. The food was good, nicely prepared and presented. I think they'll do okay here.
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Re: Francesca's

Postby O.J. » Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:23 am

The menu seems fairly nondescript; the absence of polenta(and, I can only see one risotto appetizer) makes me wonder whether they should be referring to their cuisine as Northern Italian.
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Re: Francesca's

Postby shyguy » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:03 pm

One of the entrees Saturday night was served over a creamy polenta, one of the fish dishes. And they had the rissoto appetizer which we didn't get.

If you're looking at the on-line menu, I thought the "real" menu we had Saturday night was more interesting - different choices that those listed on line.

Well, I don't want to sound like I'm saying it was the best place we ever went, just that it was interesting and seemed worthwhile.
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Re: Francesca's

Postby MadMind75 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:29 am

Yeah I'm pretty sure that preliminary March 2010 opening date was a tad premature. Walked by there either last month or the month before and looked like the interior hadn't even been started yet.

Their website states that it is now open (July 2010).
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Re: Francesca's

Postby jjoyce » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:50 am

It's done. And open.
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Re: Francesca's

Postby MadMind75 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:16 pm

jjoyce wrote:It's done. And open.

Any man on the street reports or Isthmus review yet?
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Re: Francesca's

Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:15 pm

I see that 77 Square gave their review. Now it's time for someone from Isthmus to step up.

And while you're at, please report if anything not red is worth the visit. I took a quick glance at their menu when we had lunch at Oceans during restaurant week (very good, btw) and tomatoes seem to be a staple.

Tomatoes and I don't get along.
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Re: Francesca's

Postby coldspotter » Mon Aug 09, 2010 1:29 pm

Oh Goodie!!! Another non-original concept. Yawn.
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Re: Francesca's

Postby lolagirl » Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:04 am

Went there for lunch yesterday. Overall was quite pleased. The place is gorgeous - has a dropped wood tray ceiling that seemed to quiet noise, plain tables, linen napery, and a very inviting bar (which I would like to try when I'm not at work).

Menu looked to be hand-written, which I am hoping means it will change frequently. Bread was fantastic; we received about a half a baguette of crusty, chewy, warm bread served with an herb infused olive oil for dipping.

Every table got a bottle filled with water on the table. I'm a big water drinker, so really appreciate not having to flag someone down to get a refill.

I ordered a pasta dish served with olive oil, garlic and clams. The pasta was perfectly cooked (which is what I would expect at an Italian restaurant). The dish was full of small, tasty little clams in the shell (I think around a dozen) and had enough garlic to clear all of downtown from vampire invasions.

The downside was that the pasta I ordered was over salted; that's something I've noticed in other places as well when ordering pasta without sauce.

I'll be back for dinner. Soon.
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Re: Francesca's

Postby gargantua » Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:19 pm

My wife and I went last week and had a favorable impression. I had mixed feelings about the decor and atmosphere, and I just can't put my finger on why. Service was very attentive, to the point where I wonder if they didn't over staff a little. Minimal wait for drinks and food. They had Hopalicious on tap! I had a chicken/pasta entree that was good, but not to die for. I was impressed that they did not have something on the menu that my wife saw on their web menu, so the server knew what it was and had the kitchen prepare it. It was a mixed seafood/pasta dish and she loved it.

She forgot her leftovers, and our server followed us out into the rain to give it to her. Pays to tip well. Also thought the prices were reasonable. We will return.
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