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Restaurant Review: Emilio's Tapas Short Pump

By 6:19 AM , ,

Sunday night I was planning on making the Tarragon-Cream Polenta Potpies, but alas, I forgot to to lay the chicken out. Oops! So Hubby & I decided we'd head out and see what was open. Not much. Wine Loft? Nope (turns out they aren't open on Sundays anyways). Cafe Caturra? Not happening. Barrel Thief? No. You get the picture here. We were looking for appetizer type food, and of course, wine.

So I suggested Emilio's Tapas (Short Pump). I love tapas, and had been wanting to try this place. Hubby was a little hesitant, he had read several negative reviews including the one over at Whine me Dine me, but agreed that we should give it a shot.

One of the first dishes we started with was the Patatas Jonny. We did this after the high praises the previously mentioned review gave them. They were delicious - crunchy nuggets of spicy goodness. They were coated in a I think well-intentioned, but mayonaisey paprika aioli.

We also tried the empanadas. We tried to order the chorizo and manchego ones, but they were out of those and so we ordered the crab ones (Cangrejo) instead. The color on the empanadas was good, but the crust didn't really have that flaky crust, instead it was a bit soggy. The empanadas definitely contained alot of crab, but the crab did not taste like very high quality crab. A ramekin of the same aioli the potatoes were coated in was served alongside the empanadas.

Next up was a baked goat cheese (Quesos de Cabra al Horno). This was good. Very fresh tasting. Almost as if the tomatoes making up the marinara had just been pulled off the vine. One problem - we were given half of what must be the tiniest mini loaf of bread (kind of charred on top as well) to use for a pretty large bowl of this queso. So when our waitress finally came over to ask how things were, we requested more bread. Well, lets just say by the time we got another equally small - but this time a whole "loaf", the dip wasn't very warm anymore.

We decided to try 2 more things - the lamb meatballs and a ravioli special. The meatballs, well, let's just say I advised Hubby against these having read horrible things about them, but he wanted to try them and so we did. They really were horrible. They tasted like boiled meat in a red brothy type liquid (to thin to really qualify as a sauce). Something I'd expect from one of the contestants on the Worst Cooks in America show.

The ravioli special though, was OUT OF THIS WORLD. Seriously. We weren't expecting much at this point, and the manager/part time cook/not really sure what he was told us when he brought the dish out that if they were not so good, it was his fault that he made them because Emilio usually makes them and Emilio was at Woodlake that night (which kind of left me wondering why were they on special if the person who makes them was not there, but anyways...). The ravioilis were filled with spinach and cheese and bathed in a decadent nutmeg cream sauce.

Overall, the portion sizes were generous for tapas (the one exception was the empanadas).

The wine list was decent. All reasonably priced Spanish wines.

We liked the casual atmosphere. We sat in the bar area at a high top table. Suprisingly, the way the tables are set up in the bar area and due to some tiled half walls strategically placed, it gives you a feeling of coziness and more privacy than you have in most bar areas.

So, would we return? Perhaps. If one of us gets a craving for that ravioli and they have it that night. I'd also be interested in trying one of their paellas that they tout.

Lamb Meatballs

Quesos de Cabra al Horno

Cangrejo Empanadas

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  1. ugh, i am so sorry. i WANT that place to be good. someone who cooks there needs to drive to mas tapas in charlottesville and watch the real deal. glad to hear the ravioli was good.

  2. just the idea of the meatball made me gag. it is still haunting me weeks after eating it. i'm glad you had a better experience.

  3. Oh, man, I LOVE emilio's! I've been to both short pump and woodlake many times. I know at short pump it does take awhile to get the bread, not because they forgot but they heat it up in a toaster oven thing to warm and crisp it before they give it to ya. The sangria and paella are AMAZING!!

  4. I love Emilio's too! I know they heard about the meatball issue and now Emilio himself makes sure that each batch comes out to perfection! The paella is authentic and originates from his hometown in Spain. Definitely worth the trip to Short Pump, Woodlake or the Fan. Yummy Sangria too!