The Garlic, one of the finer establishments in New Smyrna Beach, a restaurant whose vibe can best be described as Tuscano Rustico. I had been there before but it was a first for Astral Wendy. When we entered the restaurant, the maitre'd asked if we wanted to sit outside and Wendy said "I don't know, it's looking pretty ominous out there." Not sure if the maitre'd thought ominous was a synonym for awesome or not, but she smiled, thanked Wendy and lead us to a table in their wonderful patio area. The patio is covered, it was not raining yet, and despite some wind filtering through the abundant flora, it was warm thanks to some portable patio heaters.
On the patio avant le déluge
The patio has this massive fireplace. Hard to tell from
this photo but we're talking Citizen Kane scale here.
The waiter brought us a nice crusty loaf of pane rustico, which is served with a whole head of perfectly roasted garlic. He dressed the garlic with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Very good! Then we tucked into this fried calamari appetizer, which is tossed with some lightly sweated pepperoncinis, dusted with freshly grated Parmesan, and served with a side of thick marinara sauce. I had never seen fried calamari served with pepperoncinis before and it's quite delightful. I like a spicy marinara with my squids, but usually a restaurant will add the heat using crushed red pepper. This is way better.
I noticed this item on the menu called the Bocce Ball. It's 16oz of ground filet mignon, shaped into a ball and roasted in the outdoor brick oven. Given the novelty of the name and description in the menu, I just had to order it. Man, that's one giant meatball! It's served with a topping of melted mozzarella on a bed of linguini. It was fantastic, although I could barely make a dent in it. Seriously, this could feed a family of four. The remains are sitting in the refrigerator right now and I can't wait for lunch. There's enough left to feed me and Wendy an abundant lunch and, if Otis was not a vegetarian, there would be enough for him too,
The rustic decor of the entrance lobby.
This is the outdoor oven at The Garlic. 800 degrees.
Time for leftover Bocce Ball!