By Candace Nelson - 2:28 PM

Chris was in town yesterday, and we decided to treat ourselves to a "fancy" dinner. A restaurant called Stefano's has been on my bucket list for awhile because I've seen the commercials advertising it, and it's supposed to be one of the best fine dining establishments in town.

From the outside, we determined it didn't seem too intimidating -- a neon sign and Christmas lights in the tree. To top it off, it's located beneath a bowling alley, Suburban Lanes. It's tucked away, so there's not really a grand entrance, but the windows were dark, so we weren't quite sure what we were in for.

When we walked through the two sets of doors, there was a hostess ready to take our coats. We had called ahead for reservations (as per requested on the website), so they sat us right away. There was one couple and a party of 10 or so. Probably typical for a Wednesday evening.

The lighting inside was very dim, and consisted of mainly modern, circular track lighting. Wine bottles were showcased in a cabinet, and large glass bowls were affixed on the wall. A bar was also placed behind translucent glass, with a few TVs on the wall. The chairs were a dark blue, and there were black accents - all very sophisticated.

The music playing were popular songs, though they had no lyrics. When there were gaps between the songs, we were able to hear the bowling alley above on a few occasions.

We were sat at one of the tables that had a long chain of booth seating opposite the table with a chair on the other end. Our table was placed with a candle, a couple forks and spoons, and as soon as we were seated, we were served bread with a muffaletta olive salad, butter and olive oil. The olive salad was tasty and tangy - paired perfectly with the moist slices of bread.

As we were snacking on the bread, we were served a tortellini special from the chef.  This lovely little surprise was a thick pasta with a mixture of cheeses in a cheese-based sauce. Though the cheeses weren't overly flavorful, they weren't bad. Slightly bland, so it wasn't going to overpower the main course.

Before we knew it - yet another surprise. This time, it was a lemon sorbet. This refreshing little bite-sized  cool treat refreshed the palate before our main courses arrived. I ordered the "Manicotti di Frutti di Mar," which is shrimp, scallops, crab, and lobster rolled in pasta and topped with pesto beurre blanc ~ $24. Chris had the "Spigola di Arigosta," pan-roasted sea bass served with homemade fried lobster ravioli, sauteed spinach, and lobster consomme.

It was a difficult decision; most things on the menu looked delicious. I did, indeed, love my dish (as many others seem to do, too). Though I was worried that the various shellfish would run the risk of a very fishy meal, the chef portioned the fish perfectly to the pasta, and the pesto sauce just hit the right notes. The texture of the shrimp and lobster was nice and firm - not mushy like many seafood/pasta combos. The pesto was creamy, basil-infused with a delicious olive oil base. The combinations of the seafood, pasta and pesto was delicious. I also had a side of french-cut green beans, drenched in garlic and butter, and crisp.

Chris also liked his dish - the fish was moist and flavorful, as was the pile of spinach. The lobster ravioli, however, consisted of one ravioli, which consisted of mostly of deep-fried ravioli edges without much lobster in the middle.

As we finished our meal, the waiter came out with a serving tray full of the desserts they offer. It was very nice to see them all already made and in person - much more effective than photos. I can venture to guess that many patrons end up ordering dessert because all the options looked absolutely delicious. Chocolate and candies were placed on every dish, and it was almost a work of art. I probably could've eaten them off the tray. Among them were a chocolate mousse and creme brulee. Chris and I ordered two: pecan-encrusted vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, candy-explosion cheesecake  that was adorned with butterfinger, reese's pieces, Hershey's kisses.

We shared both of these, but I think we preferred the ice cream dish only because it was a cold, refreshing dessert after our meal. It was drenched in chocolate syrup, so much so that I took some off the plate and transferred it to the cheesecake. The ice cream had tiny crushed candied pecans that made the dish seem like a fancier Nutty Buddy. The cheesecake was also tasty, with the candy encrusted on the top. Though good in theory, I would've preferred a strawberry or cherry syrup because the chocolate syrup with the chocolate candies was a little much. And without the syrup, it was a little dry. Overall, though, it is better than 90 percent of the cheesecake I've had in Morgantown.

My experience was fantastic - the meal was delicious, service was excellent, and I couldn't have asked for better company. Oh, and we also got these giant mints at the end of the meal.

Grade: A
Stefano's on Urbanspoon

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