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Bertucci’s Brick Oven Ristorante – Marlton, NJ

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Bertucci’s Brick Oven Ristorante – Marlton, NJ
Meal: Weekend / Holiday / 530p
Price: $102.00 (for 4- excluding tip)
Menu: Bertucci’s Website

For this past Father’s day, we figured out a centralish spot to meet for dinner with Dad, and Bertucci’s won the day (as far as location is concerned). With the popularity of brick/coal oven chains popping up everywhere, Bertucci’s has been around for a while and is only now really starting to make a push on the advertising front.

The Marlton Bertucci’s is kind of in an odd spot on the side of Route73. It’s only accesible to one-way traffic (you’ll have to make a u-turn if you’re coming from points south) and has a modest sign that could be easy to miss. It probably does well servicing the mini-skyscraper offices in a park behind it, but we were fairly shocked to find the restaurant with only modest interest on this past Father’s Day.  No bother, we ordered a few beers and watched the Phillies lose.

The interior of Bertucci’s is very nice, with an open feel and the brick oven a central focal point. There’s a modest bar and some LCD TVs within range of some of those near it; it’s fairly non-intrusive and won’t interrupt your meal. Our beers arrived cold and delicious, and were accompanied by some of the best bread I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Warm, doughy, and unbelievably good, most of us agreed it was the best part of the meal.  If you love bread, Bertucci’s is going to be your place. They won’t refill you for free, but if you’ve got a larger group you’ll definitely want more.

For an appetizer, we ordered the mozerella sticks, which were presented in the form of three wedges that we had to cut up to make sure everyone had a taste. They were pretty good, and a nice change of pace from the usual. For our entrees, I tried the tilapia with spinach, my brother got the chicken parm, my other brother got the baked tortellini with chicken, and my dad got linguini with meatballs. Our server was good enough to have very little negative to say about the service.

Our entrees came in a decent amount of time, most of them steaming hot. A few bites into my tilapia though, and I really thought there was something wrong. Whereas tilapia should be a fairly mild fish, mine was very fishy and overall just tasted like a ‘bad’ piece of fish. I sent it back and tried the lobster ravoli instead.  Interestingly, they charged me an extra buck for the difference between the two items. Considering my time to wait for them to make me something that wouldn’t turn my stomach, I’m suprised they went ahead and charged me more. Thankfully, though, the experience was much better across the table, with the rest of my family very satisfied with their meals. Fish is sometimes tough to pull off, especially in a restaurant that is really geared towards pastas, and perhaps the lesson here is that as much as I love seafood, I need to play to the strengths of the restaurant I’m in.

For dessert, we tried a whole lot of stuff. The cheesecake, the bomba, and the trilogy – a sampler platter. The cheesecake and bomba were decent, but 2/3 of the trilogy was pretty lame. Of the trilogy, the chocolate budino, essentially chocolate mousse, was probably the most worthwhile. The canoli was supermarket-variety and the tiramisu, one of my favorite desserts, was really subpar with virtually no coffee flavor.

Polling the table, we gave Bertucci’s the following scores, with mine being the lowest for my poor, mangled tilapia. 2.5, 3.5, 4.0, 4.0.

Pros:

– May have less wait time than other places due to location
– Nice atmosphere
– Good pasta dishes
– Awesome bread

Cons:

– Stay away from the fish
– Desserts generally under perform entrees
– Lots of veal choices (typically inhumane)

Combined Score: 3.5 Chews

 ★★★½☆

Subjective rating: Made most of the group happy.

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