Restaurant review: New Mozart’s offers symphony of Euro-style classics

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From the September 12, 2013 edition

Newsflash: Dainty ain’t my forte. Yet there I was, happily nibbling on petite crustless finger sandwiches and other assorted frilly treats while I gently sipped hot tea inside of the huge and newly relocated Mozart’s. As a point of pride for this former linebacker, though, I refused to stick my pinkies out.

Bearing the modest subtitle of “Bakery and Piano Bar” — it could believably add on “cafe, ice cream parlor, full-service eatery and banquet hall” — this two-decades-later Mozart’s reboot is repopulating an abandoned Beechwold space that’d first been a restaurant back in the 1930s. Now serving Mozart’s justly famous pastries, homemade ice creams plus breakfast, lunch and dinner (along with a full slate of booze), “All things to all people” could easily be the motto here. Considering this frequently packed place looks to be embraced by a from-kiddies-to-hipsters-to-senior-citizens-spanning clientele, its formula seems to be working.

Among this complex-like facility’s attributes are a patio, restored terrazzo floors, multiple spacious rooms stocked with multiple pianos plus a nimble professional ivory tinkler fond of playing the “Turkish Rondo,” composed by this establishment’s eponymous world-shattering genius. Another draw is the reservations-only (at least 24 hours in advance) “Afternoon Tea” service I initially referred to. This precious ritual ($16; and take that adjective as you will) is actually a good deal and a restorative break from your quotidian routine — so long as you’re not squeamish about an undeniably dollhouse-type, if surprisingly satisfying, meal/snack.

My three rounds of mini-munchies — which were accompanied by a proper pot of tea made from a decent loose leaf selection (hint: Earl Grey has never failed me) — began with warm, flaky and impressively light and buttery, raisin-studded scone-ettes. These were served with tangy Devonshire cream plus thick and seedless (and sweetly restrained) raspberry preserves; I was told both perfect-for-the-occasion condiments were housemade.

Next up was a pretty plate of lunchy canapes (itty-bitty sandwiches). These included good smoked salmon with cream cheese and fresh dill; cucumber and dill; deli ham, cheese and mayo; deli turkey, cheese and mayo; a wonderful nutty-pesto-coated, micro-grilled cheese topped with a flower-carved tomato; canned olive with a portobello strip; and an excellent, slivered almond-flaked, cranberry chicken salad with hefty chunks of meat.

It was hardly a shocker the dessert course rocked. I got a lovely chocolate petit four (diminutive but great chocolate cake in a crackly chocolate shell), a chewy madeleine (not quite Proust-worthy, but nice-enough) and a showstopping, trompe-loeil “peach” with crust-mantle-core-type layers of marzipan, white cake, buttercream and those fine raspberry preserves.

If dinner items blended in more with this latest Mozart’s banquet room vibe and decor, they still ate all right. Starter-wise, I recommend you pass on the afterthought side salad ($4) in favor of the hearty Hungarian Goulash ($3; think paprika-y beef stew leavened with a hint of mint).

If overshadowed by heavy breading, a golden brown Wiener Schnitzel entree ($15 with two sides) was nicely fried. A mild-on-the-sour-creamy-tang Chicken Paprikash main ($13) featured plenty of tender breast meat. Each of these was partnered with the veggie du jour (indifferent steamed broccoli on my visits) plus a starch such as basmati rice (untried), black peppery and fluffy-yet-dense mashers (easy on the dairy) or scene-stealing spaetzle (stubby German-style pasta). The terrific spaetzle alone is worth a trip here.

Though service wasn’t perfect (wrong and/or forgotten sides and sauces), it was eminently friendly and well-intentioned enough that glitches were easily overlooked. What won’t be overlooked is all this Mozart’s has to offer.