I’ve been to Conti’s downtown twice. It’s a neighborhood style Italian Place. Mom and I split the artichoke dip which was one of the best I’ve tried. Parmesan Cheesy and thick with artichoke without the abundance of filler that characterizes most artichoke dip. I had the Italian Wedding soup which was quite good but had an overabundance of pasta, which I usually find scarce. The parmesan on the table was a little too salty and I got the feeling it wasn’t the best. Mom had the minestrone which she thoroughly enjoyed.

For the entrée I had penne with vodka sauce and shrimp. While I was in New York I loved penne and vodka sauce which a lot of the little pizzerias would fix with prosciutto and peas and usually some onion. Conti’s was good and the shrimp went well but it lacked the crisp flavor of the better ones in New York and was a little overboard on the tomato.

Mom had the Italian sausage which she found tasted a little old for the pork. It was their homemade variety.

Overall, a pleasant place but you need to be careful what you order. Its not uniformly fabulous and the prices are fairly high, but that is consistent for downtown.

Went to TGI Fridays. Their new Sicilian quesadilla is quite good. A pleasant place. I’ve never liked the Jack Daniel’s flavored stuff though. Seems like a good concept but doesn’t really ring with most things.

Tried the steak at Blues City on Beale. It was a very nice strip. Precut. I really like the way they sear all sides of the cubes. Medium rare in the center sometimes needs a little more texture and doneness differential. Cutting the steak during cooking solves this problem.

Blues Citys Coffees and Pastry ,not to be confused with Bluff City Coffee at 505 South Main which has lots of comfy seating and non-vile iced coffee, on main across from the Peabody Place is an excellent concept.
However, it has several critical Coffees shop flaws. First and most important it lacks any comfy seating. For a coffee place you need nice chairs to relax and read in while you sip your coffee. Secondly, the pastries need work. I met the pastry chef and she’s a nice lady, but the Napolean Crust is tough and flavorless, and the general selection seems to be fairly low grade. The Crème Brulee is pleasant but that’s tough not to be.

The iced coffee is cold brewed and some of the most vile stuff I have ever tasted. The espresso is nice though. So get the crème brulee and espresso if you want to sit outside there and look cool or just want to set up your laptop and do some work. Otherwise, it’s a pass. The coffee shop in the Peabody when it is open is a much better choice if you want some fancy pastries downtown. Quetzal’s are nice too.