Saturday, January 10, 2009

Isabella's Italian Seafood - Monterey, Ca

One weekend morning, about a month ago, I was lazily lying in bed watching public access television. I know, that sounds lame but I got engrossed in a television show called, "Coastal Cuisine" featuring Tene Shake. I am familiar with the Shake family through a friend of mine who bought cattle for Tene's father, Shabu Shake, past owner of the Old Fisherman's Grotto. I loved the show, and developed a craving for seafood. Fast forward a month and here I am planning a trip to Isabella's Italian Seafood, one of Tene Shake's signature restaurants.

The front of the restaurant

The actual Isabella!

One of the tables upstairs.

Isabella's is located on Fisherman's Wharf in historic Monterey. Go directly to the Whale Watching dock and you will find yourself standing in front of the two story building. The restaurant offers spectacular harbor views from every table, outdoor dining and a quite atmosphere for fine dining. The host brought us to a quaint table upstairs where our meal was about to be enjoyed.

The house, Pinot Noir.

The bread and oil.

Fried Monterey Calamari

We asked for a house glass of Pinot Noir and it was tasty. I don't normally leave up the wine selection to the house, but today I didn't feel like making a wine selection. The bread was brought to the table and I was intrigued by its corn bread like texture. It tasted kind of like cake but was not sweet... very interesting. I liked it very much. The oil and balsamic dip was a nice compliment to the slices of bread. A complimentary appetizer was brought to our table! That was so sweet of them. It was a half pound of Monterey Calamari, which they claim is their specialty. It was fried and served with a side of tarter and cocktail sauce.

Clam Chowder

Crab Cakes

Isabella's Pasta

Deep fried Cheesecake

Now on with more food... I ordered a small cup of Clam Chowder because I just love the stuff! It was funny, earlier this week I had clam chowder from a can, Progresso's, and you just don't know how bad soup is from a can when you have the real thing! It was a small cup, kind of a teaser but it is so rich I was fine with the size. For my entree I ordered... Crab Cakes! Doesn't my plate look beautiful? They didn't have any filler, all crab meat and fried golden brown. Perfect crust! The mango sauce it sat in was delicious - the right amount of tang. Robert ordered the "Best" thing on the menu. The Isabella's Pasta - named after Tene's Italian mother. This impressive plate was filled to the brim with lobster meat, crab meat, jumbo scallops and jumbo shrimp sautéed in a Gilroy garlic cream sauce tossed in fresh spinach fettuccini. Wow! That dish is well worth every penny, it was fabulously luxurious - fit for a king! And last but not least, we were both brought a deep fried Cheesecake creation. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.

I am so happy I made the decision to visit Isabella's Italian Seafood. While at the restaurant I even saw Tene himself wandering about talking to customers and encouraging his staff, exactly what a successful restaurateur should be doing! I wanted to ask him to take a picture with me but, I chickened out. I don't normally talk prices on my reviews but, for this meal the bill came out to $67 and that blew my mind! That is so reasonable for the quality meal we had. I will return to Isabella's and I cannot wait to try Lattitude’s at Lovers Point, also one of Tene's signature restaurants. I did notice that the wharf was particularly empty, so take advantage of the currently low market price of lobster and cure your seafood craving today! Two thumbs up for sure!

One more thing... I saw this pirate wandering the wharf and he asked if I wanted to take a picture with him so, I did! ;)

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