As I walked in, I asked for the restaurant, and the bartender said, "You're looking at it."
Attached to a liquor store next door, Enoteca is dominated by a large, horseshoe-shaped bar, complete with cigarette and cigar smoking and a television tuned to sports - not that there's anything wrong with that. Just be aware that you can't expect a non-smoking, intimate dining experience here.
Vinyl booths and Formica tables are scattered around the bar's parameter. My friend and I were pressed for time and our accommodating (and well-tanned) server, Gigi, adapted happily to our pre-theater schedule. After sampling a glass of Fetzer fume blanc ($5) and a Geyser Peak chardonnay ($3.50), we started with buffalo shrimp ($6.95).
A small casserole was quickly delivered. Inside, six medium-sized butterflied fried shrimp soaked up a peppery red sauce. A small container of blue cheese dressing was on the side, to douse the heat, if need be.
Other starter choices included clams casino ($5.25), mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat ($6.25) and fried mozzarella ($3.95). Although the chef's snapper soup was described as phenomenal ($1.75 for a cup), we didn't have time to slurp. Our main courses delivered hefty portions of hearty cuisine, along with a salad and vegetable and potato du jour. My fried deviled crabcakes ($11.95) were mammoth and tasty, two cakes of lightly spiced crabmeat mixed with a bread filling. Freshly steamed carrots and red bliss potatoes adorned the colorful plate.
My friend's chicken Rosa ($9.95) was a large portion of creamy tomato sauce served over al dente spaghetti, with six large chicken tenders. The chicken was perfectly cooked - sometimes I think that if I have to eat another piece of dry chicken breast I'll choke.
The entrees have a slight Italian accent, including shrimp scampi over pasta ($12.95), veal marinara over pasta ($12.95) and veal Romana ($12.95) sauteed with herbs and topped with melted provolone. Steak lovers can cozy up to a New York strip, with onion rings, a real deal at $12.95.
On the lighter side, the menu offers Caesar salad ($4.75), also available with grilled chilen ($6) and shrimp ($7.25).
The kitchen stays open until midnight every night but Sunday. Lunch is also great value - $4.95 specials are served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and change daily.
Enoteca, Two Kresson Road, Cherry Hill, 609-429-7038.
Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight, Monday-Saturday.
Price range: Appetizers, $3.95- $6.95; entrees, $9.95-$14.95.
Credit cards: All major.
Nonsmoking section: No.
Facilities for the disabled: No.