Archestratus, the first food critic, praised Italian cuisine's "top-quality and seasonal" ingredients and "fair-to-middling" ability to tranquilize out-of-control mayors. Today's Groupon similarly stuns, and rightfully so: for $10, you get $25 worth of Italian fare and drinks at Caesar's Bistro, a ristorante in Belle Meade.
Muster an appetite for Caesar's menu with the opening invasion of antipasto caldo of scallop Florentine (scallops, spinach, bacon, ham, and cream sauce, $9) or an antipasto freddo of mozzarella caprese (green salad topped with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, pesto, and Italian dressing, $8) before quickly expanding your dinner territory with a secondi. Hope that your date doesn't speak Italian and order the pasta alla puttanesca ("whore's pasta," $9)—a mélange of diced tomatoes, black olives, hot peppers, capers, and artichoke hearts over spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccine, or ziti and topped with a spicy garlic and green-onion sauce. Seafarers, meanwhile, can sing with the fishes over a filet di pesce alla Frank Sinatra ($15), the catch of the day sautéed in lemon, capers, white wine, olive oil, witchcraft, and blue eyes that have been aged several decades. A more classical catch would be the lobster Pavarotti ($24), which serves a grossly overweight rock-lobster tail with baby shrimp and mushrooms in a heartbreaking aria of brandy cream sauce. More-casual culinary conquerors can share a 16-inch Piccadilly pizza with friends (beef, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and ham, $14). Wrap up your dinner with a traditional cappuccino ($4) or a deliciously decadent tiramisu ($4).
Management of Caesar's Bistro has passed from father Caesar to son Vito after the elder Randazzo's retirement, ensuring that the family traditions of their Sicilian cooking will continue to bless each diner's plate, devoid of mini-dresses, AutoTune, and other culinary fads currently sweeping Italian restaurants. Take advantage of Caesar's traditional mouth hospitality with today's Groupon, but remember—diners must provide their own togas.