A group of us went to Jasper’s on a recent Saturday evening, and the place was hopping! Every table was full, but we had made an early reservation and were able to secure a booth for six. It was comfy and conducive to conversation. I had not visited the restaurant in years other than to grab a quick sandwich in the Marco Polo deli side of the operation, and was reminded what a nice job the kitchen and staff do to facilitate an enjoyable evening.
This is tomato season, so of course we had to start with the freshly made mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes. Though frankly the tomatoes didn’t compare to the ones we’re growing in our garden, the mozzarella was a real treat, and it was fun to watch it being made tableside. Having seen how easy it was to make, I really need to get on the stick and make it at home. The texture was smooth and silky and I loved that it was slightly warm from the water that had been used to create it. If you look closely in the photo, you can see the cheese being stretched and formed. It went nicely with the rolls that are brought to the table (no paying extra for bread here, we were given as much as we desired.)
A salad also comes with each entrée. It’s your typical house Italian salad with crisp iceberg, but the dressing was tangy and the lettuce was cold, so though it was unimaginative, it was good for what is was. Full dinners and pastas are quite large, but the restaurant discourages splitting meals by hitting customers with a $6.95 charge if they choose to do so. It comes with an extra salad, but I think I’d rather see a smaller portion than adding the additional fee since so many diners can’t or don’t want to eat such massive quantities.
I had a dish off of the summer menu, Chicken Toscaini. It was a combination of diced chicken and Italian sausage, with peas, mushrooms, artichokes, and Kalamata olives, all mixed together with Jasper’s tomato sauce. Too much to eat, but I thought the ingredients worked very well together, and it was lighter on a hot night than a big bowl of pasta would have been.
But there were plenty of pastas at the table as well. A summer pasta with uncooked tomato sauce, pasta with meat sauce, Linguine Con Vongole (clams), and Linguine Fra Diavolo (spicy) Con Scampi. Nothing mind-blowing emerged from the kitchen, but everything was certainly satisfying, on a par with Garozzo’s and Carmen’s Cafe.
We all had more than enough to fill our bellies, and told the server that we didn’t want dessert. But when she brought by the cart and started describing each of the desserts on display, we were putty in her hands. We tried the tartufo, my favorite, a peach Napoleon and traditional cannoli. I’m partial to chocolate, so I only sampled a bite of the others, but it’s obvious they have a good pastry/dessert chef on staff. The tartufo reminded me of the one I adored at Fedora’s on the Plaza. My husband and I shared one for many an anniversary treat, and we were so sad when the restaurant closed. Jasper’s version isn’t rolled in white chocolate as Fedora’s was, but the ball is made of white chocolate and sits in chocolate sauce.
We rolled out of the restaurant at that point, sated to say the least, and very pleased with the quality of the food, service and overall experience.