Citrea Restaurant and Bar is full of contradictions. It is an Italian restaurant that plays Mexican music, a pizza place whose best dish is its french fries, and a Restaurant Week participant that almost makes you want to pay full price.
Citrea’s Restaurant Week menu has something for everyone — regardless of their preferences. Although they offer multiple options for appetizers, entrées and desserts, you are not limited to choosing one of each.
If you wish, your $25 can buy you three full pizza pies, or an appetizer and two desserts for you to gorge yourself. You are not forced to choose between two entrées, nor are you forced to eat a dessert that doesn’t appeal to you. This was a pleasant surprise when we first picked up the menu.
For an appetizer, or “antipasto,” we were given a choice of house fries, scallops, pork belly or three different types of salad. We decided to go with the pork belly and the Citrea fries, and we were not disappointed.
First, the pork belly. The portion was disappointingly small, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in flavor. The meat was cooked well and it was deliciously fatty. The vegetables used as garnish were crisp and added good texture to the dish. The presentation was also superb; the meat was laid out on a rich bed of house barbecue sauce.
The fries, though, were the star of the afternoon. Cut — with skin — from whole potatoes, they came in a wax paper cone and were fresh out of the fryer. The fries were perfectly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and came with delicious homemade ketchup. The portion size was extremely generous. Our tip: if you come with a date, pick this as your appetizer and split it, then use your extra pick on another entrée or dessert.
We are convinced that if Citrea opened a little shop right by the bars dedicated to their French fries — a la Pommes Frites in New York City — it would be a huge success. They’re that good.
Moving on to the entrée. Although pizza is supposedly the bread and butter of Citrea, we found ourselves disappointed. Of the four pizzas offered on the Restaurant Week menu, we chose three: Margherita, Salcicca and Citrea.
Each pie is 10 inches in diameter and could easily feed two people — or one very hungry person. The pizzas came quickly, served with a pizza cutter for the table so we could cut slices to sizes of our liking.
The Margherita and Salcicca were strikingly similar, with the Salcicca simply featuring the addition of pepperoni and crumbled sausage. We found ourselves wishing that the two pies had been left in the oven a little longer, as the dough was slightly chewy and difficult to cut. However, the mozzarella had a good flavor, and the fresh tomato sauce added a nice layer of flavor to the overall experience.
By far the most puzzling item of the meal was the restaurant’s namesake entrée: Citrea Pizza. This pizza came with an intriguing combination of mozzarella, lemon, shrimp, chives and jalapeño peppers. We gave it the benefit of the doubt when we ordered it, but quickly agreed that the unique flavor wasn’t for us. The saving grace of this pizza was the cheese, which for some reason had a much better flavor than the cheese on the Margherita and the Salcicca. However, the combination of shrimp and cheese was something that our taste buds simply couldn’t reconcile. Nevertheless, we could understand how others might be drawn to the dish and its seemingly random medley of flavors.
Though the meal stumbled through the entrée, it came back with a bang for dessert. We split an order of zeppoles, which are small, fried balls of dough covered in cinnamon and sugar and drizzled with Nutella. It was the perfect combination of sweet and salty, rich and filling. There was not too much Nutella, nor did we find ourselves scraping the bottom of the plate for more.
All in all, we enjoyed our meal. For three courses, Citrea hit the spot. Plus, we went home with an entire pizza to enjoy as leftovers.
Citrea is located on 7 Court St.