After reading glowing reviews from several different publications and sites I was disappointed in the noisy, lackluster, downright pedestrian 'Cafe Allora'. While the restaurant was generally inoffensive, the chef's pathetic attempt at pumpkin risotto was just that, a pathetic attempt. Allora?s risotto appeared to be little more than watery long-grain rice (an inappropriate rice stock for the dish) with a sparse selection of steamed squash cubes. This dish could have been duplicated by an intoxicated dolt for far less than the $16 price, and likely with superior results. Properly prepared risotto is first cooked briefly in butter or olive oil until evenly coated and the rice starts to turn translucent; broth is then added, one ladle at a time, to ensure the grains absorb the liquid gradually. This will bring out the rich creaminess of the rice's starches, while maintaining an al dente feel to each individual rice grain. Properly prepared risotto will display an almost ?gooey? viscosity without any of the broth?s liquidness. Allora?s risotto was little more than over-cooked rice swimming in murky white fluid ?and virtually tasteless at that. For those who watch the television program Hell?s Kitchen, you?ll note that the show?s contestants often botch risotto. The dish takes time, great care and a good deal of manual labor, but the results can be splendid. Allora, feel free to sell your watery rice during amateur hour, but please don?t foist it upon us as something it could only dream of being. And please, dear servers, do not tell me that other patrons are ?gobbling it up?. This does not reflect positively on the dish?s quality, rather it casts your patrons? palettes as unsophisticated, or worse yet, numb. Perhaps the rest of the menu is more noteworthy, but I certainly won?t be sampling this cafe?s fare again. Allora, shame on you.
Pros: Relatively meat-free menu featured several inventive combinations
Cons: risotto, risotto, risotto... oh yes, and the risotto.