The food is much better than it looks in these less than stellar cell phone photos. La Trattoria, at 524 Duval, is a delightful oasis in the middle of the action.
However, in my opinion, they have committed a truly heinous sin: no vintages on the wine list. When you sell $20-40 bottles of crap, nobody expects vintages. We know you are selling whatever the latest release is, and you are not storing more than you have to. I get that. But when you sell $300 bottles of Sassicaia and $110 bottles of Brunello, please don’t make me ask for the vintages on every wine on the list, it is annoying and should be unnecessary. Fortunately for me, they allow corkage at a reasonable $15 for the first bottle and $10 for subsequent bottles.
The service is quite good. We had a very friendly server, which often happens in Key West. The food was a big hit. Our order: Stuffed mushrooms with breadcrumbs in a parmesean cream sauce, half order of gnocchi, half order of penne arrabiatta and snapper picatta.
The gnocchi, I was warned, are not traditional. Rather, they are more like mini agnolotti – little pillows stuffed with gorgonzola in a gorgonzola sauce. As I knew what to expect, they were quite delicious. The penne arrabiatta, literally “enraged penne” was also good, although needed a bit more spice.
Evey time I order anything arrabiatta, I am reminded of the time in Rome, at the Trevi fountain, when annoying men selling flowers would not leave me alone. Finally, in my very limited Italian, I yelled at one of them who then pronounced that I was, in fact, “arrabiatta”, but then he left. So, it all worked out, despite the fact that I was not, in the least bit, enraged.
Overall, the food at La Trattoria is good and the service is good. I recommend it.