Like to dine alfresco? Odds are good then that you’ll be taken with Al Laghetto Ristorante. The outdoor setting couldn’t be more spectacular. Al Laghetto, which specializes in northern Italian cuisine, overlooks a sparkling blue lake surrounded by lush flower gardens and glorious green vistas. The restaurant’s charming, paved brick path leads to an even more charming gazebo that straddles the lake, a picture-perfect spot in which to get married, have a private party, or enjoy an intimate dinner.
Tables in the spacious and airy indoor dining room are covered with white linen tablecloths and are softly lit by candlelight. The room’s main feature is a striking, hand-painted mural depicting Venice in all of its glory.
My husband and I nibbled on hot and flaky Italian bread as we sipped an excellent house Chianti wine. Al Laghetto boasts an extensive wine list that includes selections from Italy, California, Oregon, Spain, New Zealand, Australia and Chile. We started our dinner with an insalate tre colore, arugula, endive and radicchio, bathed in a delicious olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, topped with Gorgonzola cheese.
We shared an antipasto of baked stuffed cherrystone clams, accompanied by grilled portabello mushrooms and roasted peppers, covered with a balsamic vinegar reduction.
The menu included an extensive array of entrÃ©es. My husband opted for one of the day’s specials, a lightly sautÃ©ed grouper in a lemon white sauce flavored with fresh herbs, garlic, dried tomatoes and anchovies. I enjoyed the veal Monte Bianco, a tender scaloppini of veal topped with artichoke hearts, fontina cheese and a white wine sauce with black olives. The menu includes an assortment of pastas and the increasingly popular risotto.
Leave room for dessert; there is a large selection of goodies, including flourless chocolate truffle cake or the chocolate mousse cake, homemade tiramisu and a creamy ricotta cheesecake. We finished off our meal with an espresso and a homemade coffee bean-flavored sambucca.
AL LAGHETTO RISTORANTE
75 N. Rt. 9W, Congers