Long hailed as the premier Italian restaurant in Middle Georgia, Natalia’s has entered a new era without its founder at the helm. Thanks to new eyes with great taste, Natalia’s is now better than ever.
All of the best elements are still there: perfectly cooked food, glamorous surroundings, calming atmosphere and a great bar. Most of the printed menu is exactly as it’s always been. Gone are the odd decorative clowns.
What I like better now is a relaxed and friendly demeanor in the staff. In the past, if we didn’t get our favorite waiter, Ilir, there was a chance we would not enjoy ourselves. Our waiter Spencer, trained by Ilir, was friendly, personable and could remove plates from the table without our noticing. His charm and efficiency made our meal even better than it might have been.
Because we planned to have steak and seafood for dinner and most of the menu appetizers were either very meaty (carpaccio, piroshki di carne) or seafood (smoked fish, caviar, tonna scottato), we chose two starters from the specials menu. The seared duck breast with intriguingly brandied muscadines balanced well with the mustard sauce. When I told Spencer that nothing really appealed to me on the starters menu, he asked if I liked scallops (which I do) and took off for the kitchen to find out why they weren’t on the menu. It was inadvertently left off, I ordered them, and they were pan-seared perfection.
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In Italy, you are expected to order a primo course of pasta and Natalia’s has several on its menu. Spinach lasagna bolognese, pesto penne with shrimp, farfalle with lump crab and creme fraiche, and spaghetti either traditionally, spicy or carbonara. We decided to use those calories on the main entree and dessert.
Our first entree was filetto di manzo piccolo Oscar con aragosta fritta, which is the fancy way to say filet mignon topped with crab with a fried lobster tail on the side. The filet was cooked exactly to our request and you can’t go wrong with crab and lobster. Our other main was the Chilean sea bass cooked in parchment atop mixed vegetables in pomegranate butter. While sea bass (aka toothfish) is not my favorite fish, this one was cooked well and the vegetables — I think perhaps quinoa and roasted corn — were the most delicious part.
Overwhelmed by dessert options such as white chocolate bread pudding with bananas foster sauce, key lime pie with coconut crust, apple strudel a la mode and chocolate mousse in a cookie lace basket, we opted for a traditional tiramisu with zabaglione. Their wine list is also worth noting, especially for occasions that call for $350 bottles of Latour.
Ironically, now that Natalia’s is now “corporate,” it has never felt so personal. Perhaps that rare imperfection makes everyone more comfortable that we are where we belong.
Address: 201 N. Macon St., Macon
Hours: 5-9 pm Monday, 5-9:30 Tuesday-Wednesday, 5-10 pm Thursday-Saturday
Payment: credit card, cash
Kids menu: no
Noise level: low
Health rating: 85
Delivery service: no
Price range: $12-$50
Rating: 4 stars