Where readers check out new restaurants and send in mini-reviews, preferably including prices, hours, and deDELETEive adjectives. Then Chow, Baby does all the work of enjoying a guaranteed-good meal. It’s not as easy as Chow, Baby makes it look, of course. So many adjective-adroit readers wrote in about Al Covo (7618 Camp Bowie Blvd. West) that Chow, Baby probably could have written a review without going there at all. But that would be unethical, and more to the point, this Italian restaurant sounded too wonderful to miss. And it is – on the inside. Outside, Al Covo occupies a plain building with a pothole-y parking lot and a great view of an O’Reilly’s. But the inside is a cozy delight: tomato-red walls and (fake) brick trim, soundtrack ranging from Pat Metheny to real jazz. The only detractor from the romantic atmosphere is the stained drop-panel ceiling, but that’s hard to notice in the dim lighting anyway.
Service and food are a matched pair: “marvelous” (that’s reader Judith’s adjectival contribution). From fresh-baked Italian bread with roasted-garlic dipping oil (free) to housemade chocolate cake layered with ganache ($4.50), every plate elicited “Boy, can that guy cook!” (Reader Michael said that first, but Chow, Baby dittoes.) And the little extras – an appetizer of stuffed eggplant ($7.50) rested on pesto cream sauce, dolloped with pine nuts and framed in a balsamic vinegar reduction. Shrimp scampi (appetizer $8.50) held a meager portion of shrimp (skimpy scampi, tee-hee), but the lovely sauce and accompanying lentil salad made it a value buy. All the sampled pastas and entrées were worthy, the best of the best being tortellini gorgonzola ($9.50), perfect little pasta purses in a glorious garlic-cream cheese sauce. Server Alfredo keeps what Chow, Baby thinks of as classy-Euro-waiter-distance: never hovering, but always close enough for a wave-over.
Beirut Rock Café (1201 S. Cooper St., Arlington) is the opposite of Al Covo in a couple of superficial ways. At this bunker-like building near UTA, the stained drop-panel ceiling and the view of an auto-supply store are among the more attractive features. And service is a lot more rushed. And it’s Lebanese rather than Italian. But it’s just as marvelous and pays the same attention to detail – lemon juice sparking the lentil soup, high-quality feta in the Greek salad. Chow, Baby was bowled over by the fresh, creamy baba ghannouj ($3.49): As reader Jerry said first, “eggplant never tasted so good.” Almost all of the items are college-budget priced, like the falafel sandwich ($2.99), in which the chick-pea patties are nicely spiced and perfectly cooked. If you have the bucks, get the sampler plate for two ($27.99), which includes soup (get the lentil) or salad (get the Lebanese, or the Greek, or any of them, really), plus near-full portions of three entrées. Here the best of the best is the chicken tawook (entrée $9.99), chunks of marinated breast meat charbroiled until seared outside, juicy inside. Housemade baklava ($2.49) makes a great ending.
That’s some great reader service – two wonderful finds in one week – and here’s Chow, Baby paying it forward: Try Al Covo and Beirut Rock Café. You heard it here second.
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