Our most recent date night, at Cena (pronounced Chen-a), was so much fun. Cena is located below Mussel and Burger Bar in JTown, formerly The Place Downstairs. Walking through Mussel and Burger Bar and not dining there is REALLLLLY tough. Totally worth it though. The meal at Cena was simple, authentic, rich, decadent, and comforting.
We always like to take to take the waiter/waitress advice on what's good, what we should order, how much. Our waiter was excellent. He suggested for two to get an appetizer, primi, and secondi (first and second course). Perfection.
Since I know there are like 2 of you reading, I am going to overshare and tell you all about our meal. You're welcome!
If you read - "smoked poached egg" on a menu would you immediately say, yep, that's my app! ?. I wouldn't! But, we were being adventurous- Gotta try it!
It was brought out in a closed jar, and opened at the table to let the smoke out. The jar was filled with ricotta cheese, maple, walnut and sea salt. Say what??? Yeah...it sounds different, and it was! The poached egg was on top, and to break it open and mix with all the other items in the jar was part of the fun of eating it. I would have been happy eating it off a spoon right out of the jar but they serve it with grilled crostini. We kept saying, wow, this is one of the most delicious things we've eaten! Immediately followed by "This is the most unusual appetizer I've ever had!" I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. SERIOUSLY! Interestingly enough, it is the only non-italian item on the menu- it is an appetizer from the restaurant that formerly resided there and patrons who loved it made a fuss about it going away. Thank you, former patrons! I see the reason why it made people hangry if it had been taken off the menu!
|Perfect Poached Egg under that cheese blanket.|
We had the carbonara. ALL THE CARBS - yahhhh. No, but seriously, this dish was RICH, decadent, and one of the most simple dishes I have had in a restaurant. No fuss, just the pure goodness of the spaghetti, poached egg, shaved parmesean and BACON! And you know the buttery goodness was all up in there too. Mixed all together, there was silence at the table because we were too busy fighting with our forks over who got the next bite. And the gentleman that Joey is, let me have the satisfaction of breaking the egg and watching all the yolk cover the pasta. I want to recreate one day. I know it won't be as good no matter how hard I try.
|Just whispering sweet nothings to my meal.|
For the main dish, we were cray. I was like, why don't we try the sea bass? Joey was cheering inside - but threw in the "you know that's the whole fish?" comment. Ack! Sure, why not? In a former life, where I cooked boxed lasagna kits to impress a date, never would I everrrr order the whole fish. Why not try to live a little! In my 30th year, I will have the whole fish, and enjoy it, dammit! It was simple, cooked perfectly, and had me giving myself a high five for stepping outside the box. Served with the crispy skin (I wanted more!) along with kalamata olives (shocker, I liked them!), sundried tomatoes, capers, artichokes, and more. Was awesome.
|Our friend was hungry in the afterlife.|
Help me. I want to eat the creamy polenta with mushrooms for every meal. Holy crap this was good. You can SEE the butter pooling on the edges. Dreamy.
Dessert was tiramisu.
|Picture quality enough to win awards, don't you agree? ;-)|
They called it Cenamisu - their twist on the classic. Seriously yum that was a bit different with crunchy chocolate balls (I don't know how else to explain other than mini whoppers without the malt flavor? Maybe mini crunch bar balls? I don't know.) Great ending to the already great meal!
At the end, we were stuffed and happy, isn't that what matters most?
Side Note: I know it may be annoying to have your dinner date take pics, but who cares? I don't, and lucky for me, Joey doesn't either. He has one rule: No Flash! So dark and grainy pics - you shall receive!