Medici House in East Aurora – Restaurant Reinvented
The Medici House is the newly reinvented Tantalus Restaurant in East Aurora. Same owners, location and I would guess mostly the same staff. My understanding is the change was brought about not because the Tantalus was hurting for customers, but because the owners felt like they wanted a change.
Located on the corner of Main and Riley in the heart of the village, the restaurant is housed in an old warehouse/grain store. It is a beautiful building inside and out- high ceilings, red brick, cement floor, big wood tables.
Food: The Medici House is strictly Italian and pizza. I gather the name is after the famed Medici family of Florence Italy. Catherine de Medici was credited with bringing modern cuisine to France when she became Queen in the 1500’s, bringing her chefs with her from Florence.
For starters we ordered the salad of Fried Goat Cheese Balls – Arugula, Pancetta, Grape Tomatoes, Tuscan Balsamic ($12). The salad was nice, the portion was good, the pancetta was excellent, but the fried goat cheese balls were fair at best. They appeared to be herb breaded and pan fried, not deep fried. Whatever it was it didn’t work.
These guys still make great pizza. We sampled the 16″ hand-crafted pancetta, goat cheese, arugula pizza ($16). Outstanding! If you like thin crusted creative pies this place will not disappoint.
For entrees I ordered Wild Boar Tenderloin with a Porcini Crème Sauce Over Pappardelle ($18). The dish had good flavor, although it could have been a bit saucier. Perhaps because it was the tenderloin, the wild boar seem to lack enthusiasm. It was, however, cooked to a perfect medium rare.
My companion ordered a menu special, panko crusted tilapia with cherry tomatoes and onion served with risotto. The fish was properly cooked with a good crust and a delicate flavor.
The wine list is very Italian. We had a nice 2009 Sicilian Nero d’Avola for $29.
Menu Items missed:
Salads: Pear & Walnut – Grilled Romaine, Maytag Bleu, Parm, Tuscan Red Wine Vinaigrette -$12;
Poached Egg & Pancetta – Spinach, Grilled Red Onions, Shaved Grana, Oil/Vinegar -$13-
5″ Frittatas (lunch only): Serano Ham, Mushrooms, Spinach, Caramelized Onions & Beemster -$7.
Potato, Pancetta, Smoked Mozzarella & Caramelized Onions -$7.
Sandwiches: Bistro-Style Flank Steak – Picadilly Relish, Provolone on a Ciabatta, Arugula, Served Med. -12; Veal/Pork Meatball Sandwich – Marinara, Provolone on Ciabatta -$10.
Pizza: Neo-Neopolitan Marghertia -$15-, Fig & Goat Cheese -$15-, Cured Wild Boar -$19; Sausage & Cappicola -$17.
Entrees: Medici Exclusive – Whole Cornish Game Hen with Mashed Potatoes -$18.
Pasta: Spinach Ravioli with Sautéed Mushrooms & Toasted Shallot Cream Sauce -$18; Butternut Squash Ravioli with White Wine Tarragon Cream Sauce -$17; Veal Milanese – 8 oz. Fresh Milk Fed Veal Cutlet, Breaded & Pan Fried, Arugula, Lemon Cream Sauce over Linguine -$24.
Scene: Pretty much the suburban restaurant scene but the space is neat if you like them big and a bit industrial (I do). New pictures of the Medici family adorn the walls, and opera music fills the air.
Service: The service was good. They were out of the draft I ordered, but the waiter was smart enough to bring me something similar without wasting time. They were also out of the wine I ordered (maybe a little annoying) but the waiter also came back with a more expensive recommendation they gave us for the original price. The recommendation wine was a good one.
Menu: Although they have reduced the menu size a little the choices are still extensive. I would say almost anyone could find something to tickle their fancy. This a obviously not a typical “red-sauce” Italian restaurant, but they do offer some red-sauce dishes. The beer and wine offering are both good too.
Clientele: Families, couples and groups.
Final thoughts: Although our meal included a few strikes, overall I think it was a solid double. Not bad for a couple of weeks into the season. I applaud what the Medici House group is trying to do. I like the direction and I’ll certainly be back soon to see how they are progressing.
Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. This is a great spot for a weekend lunch.