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COX: Tuscany in Forestville
Chef Francesco Torre's Canneti Roadhouse is named after a street in his home in Italy

  • Bee Pollen Panna Cotta at Canneti Roadhouse in Forestville. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/ PD)

The restaurant that was previously Mosaic in Forestville has changed. Now it's Canneti Roadhouse, with solid oak tables and a beautiful backyard for dining al fresco. Chef and owner Francesco Torre has done a fine job with the décor.

The food isn't bad, but it lacks pizzazz. Dishes that should sing only talk. Torre's cooking is based on his Tuscan heritage; Tuscany is known for its flavorful dishes of meat — especially game — fresh vegetables, and bread. It's sweet that chef Torre has named his restaurant after a road he walked from his home in Italy to his elementary school.

But whatever excitement was there on Canneti Road should be translated into the dishes served up in Forestville. There's not much excitement in “Tuna of the Chianti” ($12 **), as a dish of shredded pork, tondini beans, olive oil and herbs was called. It bore no resemblance to tuna. One of our diners noted that it was, fundamentally, pork and beans. And mildly flavored pork and beans, at that.

It was the deep flavor of sheep's-milk cheese that enlivened the Sformato ($13 ***) and gave it full-throated taste. This soufflé — about 3 inches in diameter and slightly deflated as it cooled — had that distinctive nutty flavor of a nicely aged pecorino cheese (pecora is Italian for sheep). Fava beans in a buttery sauce accompanied the soufflé, and a sprig of fresh thyme added some zip.

The pasta course included Maccheroni with Tuscan Meat Sauce ($17 **). The pasta was big fluted tubes that flattened after they were boiled, mixed with a very mild-flavored meat sauce. Perhaps it's our familiarity with Bolognese meat sauce, with its acidic edge provided by a reduction of wine and tomatoes, that makes this Tuscan version seem bland by comparison. But with every bite, I kept hunting for that satisfying richness and didn't find it.

It was surprising that the Saffron Risotto Cake ($19 **) was priced so high, given that the mild dish consisted of a rice cake in a swirl of butternut squash puree topped with curls of baked turnips that arrived cold. Fresh thyme tried to add its cheery perfume, but the cold turnip shavings prevailed.

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