When it first opened, everyone thought that, based on its name, Trezo Mare was an Italian restaurant. But the focus was more on treasures of the sea, which is the literal translation. The concept worked beautifully for the first couple of years, but the quality wasn’t maintained and a change was needed. Enter Chef Robert Padilla. He took over the kitchen and Trezo Mare became the Italian restaurant everyone expected when they walked in the door.
Padilla began his career at Lidia’s and honed his skills at Bluestem. His pedigree created high expectations for our recent outing to this upscale restaurant in Briarcliff Village, and though we had an enjoyable evening, it fell far short of the quality of his other stints.
Pizza has to be good at an Italian restaurant, right? So we ordered one for the table; it did not impress. The crust was fine, but not great. Sort of crisp, sort of chewy, not much to it. There were plenty of toppings, but the flavors didn’t pop. (As we were leaving the restaurant, we saw the basic cheese and tomato sauce pizza, which looked like it came out of a box). We didn’t realize how small the pizza would be, and didn’t ordered any other appetizers.
The fish of the day was corvina, which is similar to a sea bass. It came with dirty rice, Brussels sprouts and a touch of sauce that looked like a red pepper sauce. The fish was perfectly prepared, and pleasant though uninspired.
I tried the cabbage rolls, unfortunately thinking they would be prepared in similar fashion to what I enjoyed recently at Lidia’a. For those of you who have lived in Kansas City for decades, you may also recall that Venue on Main Street served vegetable cabbage rolls. They were almost ethereal—plump, moist and floating in a broth. Those were the best I’ve had…ever, and I still miss them. Having deviated from the description of the ones at Trezo Vino to dream for just a minute, I should point out that I am not necessarily a fan of cabbage rolls in general….just really good ones! Trezo Vino’s rendition is quite hearty, served atop mashed potatoes and covered with tomato sauce. The first few bites were quite tasty, but then I ran out of cabbage and was left with the stuffing…..unembellished ground Italian sausage. Fortunately, the mashed potatoes were awesome–they were a bit chunky, with the potato skins left on; the epitome of comfort food.
The others ordered the shrimp al diablo with fusilli pasta. The dish came with plenty of shrimp, but little diablo–it wasn’t spicy at all. The overall composition of the dish was pleasing though. With a few red pepper flakes shaken on top there would have been no complaints.
Prices are reasonable, portions are substantial but not coma-inducing, and the servers were attentive and friendly. On the midweek evening we were there, the dining room was not crowded, but the bar was packed. I’ve always loved the bar–the countertops and tables are a gorgeous granite, there’s a huge fireplace at one end, TVs entertain those interested in the game of the night, and it adjoins a lovely patio with views of our fair city. And it has great food and drink specials during happy hour. It’s also my preferred place to sit during lunch since the sun shines in from the wall of windows. During the noon hour a long list of salads and sandwiches supplement a handful of entrees for those who prefer a lighter bite.
Though our evening was hit or miss, the menu is large, so had we made some different picks, we could easily have had a more memorable experience. And there are few restaurants as attractive or where it’s easy to converse with your table companions.