If you travel along Cypress Lake Drive in Fort Myers, chances are you drive right by Mastello Ristorante. If you are like me it probably never dawned on you to give it a try. Turns out it is popular among those going to Barb B Mann for a show. Some 9 years ago or more, it was known as Momma Pasta. Since then though it has been remodeled on the inside and is now a more upscale Italian Restaurant with a casual atmosphere. They also own A Touch of Italy, an Italian store in the same plaza.
On the evening we went, they were not very busy with perhaps 6-7 tables being full and some people in the bar. We were warmly greeted by the hostess. Se choose a table for us and asked if it was alright. This is a nice touch which is often overlooked. It did take some time for our server to appear to take our drink orders and tell us about the specials.
We started with Mozzarella alla Caprese ($8.50). It is 3 tomato slices with 3 slice of fresh homemade mozzarella with olive oil and fresh basil. The tomatoes were very good as was the mozzarella but the portion size was small for the price and with it being just olive oil/basil it was boring.
With the bread, they serve an eggplant tapenade. It is pureed eggplant with garlic, onion, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. The bread portion is small but will bring you more. The tapenade lacked flavor. I could barely taste the garlic and onion. The bread is a whole grain Italian bread. One of our dining neighbors, who had a child about 3 years old who would cry when not getting his way, found it necessary to loudly announce that as they were in an Italian restaurant, they should serve Italian bread. I did not want to be rude and explain to her that she did have Italian bread and that not all Italian breads are white, so I hope she reads this.
We chose for our entrée’s the Fettuccini Bolognese ($16) with an additional side salad ($6) and the Rigatoni Piccanti ($15.50) with chicken added ($7). The pasta dishes do not come with a side salad and is an additional charge. The meat entree’s do and their specials for the evening include a salad and the dessert of the evening.
The homemade fettuccini was very good but the Bolognese was unremarkable. The Rigatoni Piccanti was…salty! Not so salty one could not eat it but more salt than I am used to. Later in the evening after returning home I did have to drink several glasses of water so perhaps it was saltier than I thought it was. The chicken was a cutlet cut into ample pieces. Overall the portion sizes were smaller than other Italian Restaurants in the area and considering the price.
For dessert, we had the Chocolate Cheesecake with fresh strawberries on top and in the cheesecake as well as a strawberry puree on top and pomegranate and strawberries as a garnish. The cheesecake was made in house and was very good.
Service was slow but not due to the server herself but because of the long walk they have to get to the kitchen to bring the food out. I also noticed that tables would remain un-bussed for a considerable amount of time. The hostess would assist with this but for a restaurant of this scale tables should not remain with dirty dishes etc. on them for as long as they do. It ruins the atmosphere which is prefect for a nice quiet meal, unless you have dining neighbors like we had. I really liked the atmosphere as it makes for a wonderful experience but the flavor profiles were underwhelming. If they would just up the flavors, decrease the salt and have a bus person to clear the tables it would be a truly exceptional experience. I would try them again in the hopes that the saltiness was just an error this particular evening. It really has the potential to be outstanding with just a few minor adjustments.
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Overall rating Good-
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