Bar Toma

I was expecting big things from the newly opened Bar Toma, which gets its name from famed chef Tony Mantuano, as well as from the semi-hard Italian cheese. To say I was unimpressed would be unfair. I definitely enjoy several aspects of the experience; but with a resume like Tony’s, I wanted to be swept off my feet.

We started with the WHOLE BURRATA. The ball of cheese arrived wrapped in the traditional leek leaves, only to be broken apart to reveal the unspun creamy and heavenly mozzarella. Olive oil is then drizzled atop the burrata and finished with sea salt. The bread served with the cheese was delicious and perfectly grilled, but unfortunately scarce. There were three of us dining and four pieces of bread came on the platter. When ordering a 27 dollar giant ball of cheese, I’d expect an entire loaf to eat with it. When we asked for more bread, we received three more pieces, still leaving us with an odd number of pieces between the three of us. It seemed as if the bread was being rationed; at least bring enough so each person can have the same amount!
Next we had the Rock Shrimp Polpette from the Bar Plates section of the menu. The shrimp was minced, shaped into a ball, fried, and then topped with crispy shallots and spicy tomato sauce. At first I was bit confused about this preparation, but with a little research, I discovered that a polpette is a meatball; so these fried balls were a take on a meatball, only made with shrimp instead of beef. I thought the dish was average, and could have been made better had whole shrimp been used rather than minced.
Now to Bar Toma’s “bread and butter”: their Wood-Burning Oven Pizzas. The laundry list of pizza varieties offers everything from classic Margherita to the Caprile Goat Cheese Pizza with hazelnuts, leeks, thyme and dates. We hovered near the traditional side with the Smoke & Cure Pizza, artisan pepperoni, tomato, mozzarella, and smoked garlic. The pizza crust was a blissful balance between crispy, soft and chewy. If you’re a garlic lover like I am, then you’d swoon for the soft, roasted cloves scattered around the pie. More liberally spotted atop the pizza were salty and seasoned discs of pepperoni that were definitely up there in taste and quality. The pizza was by far the highlight of the meal.
We concluded the meal with a sweet treat of Italian cookies buttered with Nutella alongside house-made vanilla gelato, and sprinkled with pieces of chocolate and hazelnut. The chocolate hazelnut combo ended the meal on a high note, with the perfect amount of richness.

Although I wasn’t blown away by Bar Toma, I wasn’t totally disappointed either. I would definitely give it another whirl so I can sample their Pizza Salads or a more extravagant pizza variety.

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