First impression: Many folks love this family owned spot for its oversized portions — much of it quite good — but I can't remember dining in a more poorly designed restaurant. Even the menus are user un-friendly: One side is written in Italian and includes prices. The other side is in English and doesn't include prices. Added to that are the dozen or so specials written on a dry erase board that's brought to the table, then set just far enough away that you can't read it. Why not print daily specials, descriptions and prices every day and hand it to diners with the menu? Most dishes are available as either single serving or family style.
Ambience: Floors are polished concrete. Walls and ceiling are concrete. So is it any wonder you can't hear much of anything, except for the very loud music? Metal and plastic chairs have an awkward pitch. Why haven't these design flaws been remedied in the seven years Kitchenetta has been open? The alternative is the patio, which fronts on busy Federal Highway.
Starters: The complimentary, thin, crisp-around-the-edges bread that comes from the wood oven is incredible and it sets our hopes high for the pizza. But Napolitano pizza ($15) with capers, anchovy, tomato sauce and oregano is over-sauced to the point that everything slides off the sodden crust. While we can't see any anchovies, they appear to be used as flavoring in the sauce. Meatballs with tomato sauce ($16 for three; $31 for seven) taste good, but there was a problem with temperature, near cold in the center. The best appetizer we sampled was a big plate of broad beans ($12) in a spicy sauce. An order of these beans and that complimentary bread would make a terrific meal.
Entree excellence: We'd ordered a different pasta, but were brought rigatoni with sausage and escarole ($26). It reminded us of the broad beans, complete with a dusting of red peppers decorating the rim of the plate. A rib eye ($28) was supposed to be served in a spicy sauce, but didn't pack any heat. The best thing about the steak were the accompanying roasted potatoes with rosemary, which are available as a side dish ($8 single; $15 family).
Side issues: We ordered just one contorni (side dish) and that was a very expensive and very oily order of charred fennel ($13 single; $25 family).
Sweet!: Very good ricotta cheesecake ($9) was studded with pine nuts and blond raisins. We were less successful with the tiramisu ($9), since all we could taste was the pile of cinnamon that covered the cake and the plate.
Service: OK. But I think our server was having as much trouble hearing as we were. Why else would he bring us the wrong pasta dish? We also sensed some tension between the servers and the kitchen. When we asked that our rib eye be sliced — this is supposed to be family style after all — our waiter said: "They'll never do that."