Dine or Decline: Dominique’s Chesterfield Restaurant

Dine or Decline: Dominique's Chesterfield Restaurant

Maggie Carey

I do not think attending a restaurant has ever been such a struggle. Luckily, my unwavering dedication to high quality food helped me maintain my motivation and focus. Approximately two weeks ago, someone highly recommended that I try Domi­nique’s Chesterfield Restaurant (1713 Bleeker Street Utica, NY). After hearing these rave reviews I checked out the restaurant’s website, which described the food as “old school with a twist.” Apparently, old school is code for homemade Italian pastas and signature dishes. I was sold.

I invited six of my friends to a faux Valentine’s Day date. For the next five days, I built up their excitement and an­ticipation for some fantastic Italian food at a secret location. Finally date night arrived, but it also brought four inches of slippery snow and slush. Fearing for our lives, date night was postponed till the following week.

Round Two. Continuing to wreak havoc on my life, Mother Nature thought it would be funny to blizzard on ev­ery other town on our way to Utica. Once again terrified for their lives, my friends encouraged me to return to Hamil­ton and the safety of our apartment. However, the thought of homemade pasta was all I needed to push forward. The journey turned out to be an amazing race as my friends and I proceeded to get lost in the winding streets of Utica.

Finally, we arrived at the restaurant. Our group quickly took notice of the chic and trendy Tuscan décor, but did not linger on the topic because we had more important things on our mind: food. The menu was comprised of appetizers ranging in price from $8.99 to $14.99 and a wide variety of entrées divided into categories including: gourmet pastas, homemade pastas, Old World specialties, poultry, veal, choice cuts and seafood. Each section listed upwards of four unique and tempting variations, priced at $11.99 to $32.99 for the angus beef filet. We wasted no time in selecting our meals and began indulging in the fresh bread flavored with olive oil, par­mesan cheese and Italian seasonings. This may be attributed to my ravenous state, but it was delicious.

Before we knew it, our entrées had arrived. Without hesitation, I dug into my lobster ravioli that was served in a lobster cream sauce filled with baby shrimp. To my surprise, the ravioli were stuffed to capacity with a filling that I would describe as chunks of lobster with hints of cheese. As a con­noisseur of lobster ravioli, I was expecting the opposite ratio based on my previous experiences. My roommate, who also ordered the dish, had a slightly more critical response. She felt that, although the dish was good, she could have gotten a dish of similar quality at Olive Garden.

My other roommate ordered the veal saltimbocca. The menu describes the meal as “tender veal medallions served on a bed of greens topped with mushrooms, prosciutto, mozza­rella cheese and a light sherry marinara and served with a side of pasta.” The veal was a surprisingly thin cut that was folded over, possibly in an attempt to make the dish appear more substantial. My roommate felt that the veal was a bit salty for her taste. Furthermore, she was disappointed by the single level of flavor throughout the dish. The bed of spinach, veal and toppings all tasted the same. She thinks the dish would have benefited from an additional component to add contrast and complexity to its flavor.

The pasta purses and stuffed chicken alfredo received similar reviews. The pasta purses were stuffed with ricotta, fontina and asiago cheese and smothered in a white cream sauce, accented by sautéed peas and prosciutto. The stuffed chick­en alfredo was comprised of a boneless chicken breast, breaded and filled with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese and was served with rigatoni in a creamy alfredo sauce. Both meals were deemed extreme­ly rich and heavy. Subsequently, neither of them were able to finish even half of the dish. The friend who had the pasta purses notes that her stomach concurs that the meal was heavy and unagreeable. Neither had complaints about the flavor of the dishes, but the overwhelming rich­ness dramatically diminished the overall quality of the meal.

Lastly, one friend ordered the chicken riggies, which included bite-sized pieces of chicken and rigatoni accompanied by roma­no cheese, sweet and hot cherry peppers and red onions. The white wine marinara sauce was surprisingly spicy. This was not one of those dishes that builds up heat as you con­tinue to eat. The punch was felt from the first bite all the way till the end. My friend gave this dish rave reviews. So if you have a passion for spicy food, this is the dish for you!

Despite Mother Nature’s attempt to deter us, my friends and I made it to Dominique’s Chesterfield Restaurant for an enjoyable meal. The overall classy and romantic atmo­sphere was a delightful escape from everyday life at Col­gate. The homemade pastas served with specialty seafood and meats were a nice change of pace compared to my nor­mal pasta that comes from a box. The only substantial cri­tique was in regards to the excessively heavy nature of the cream sauce. This disappointment was quickly compensat­ed by the complementary cotton candy that arrived with our bill. My friends and I inconclusively debated whether or not this was a Valentine’s Day treat or a regular tradition at Dominique’s Chesterfield Restaurant. Although we ulti­mately had an enjoyable time, our group is unsure whether the experience is worth the 45 minute drive (or hour and 15 minutes if you get lost).