Justin’s Tuscan Grill

Categories: Eat-in, Fancy
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Published on: February 21, 2014

After a long, difficult week, the wife and I decided to treat ourselves.  We’ve been to Justin’s a few times over the years, and decided a Friday night dinner there was just the thing.

Justin’s is just off Old Collamer Road, in the center of a nest of hotels near Carrier Circle (exit 35 off the Thruway).  As such, most of the diners there during the week are business folks who walk (or drive) over from the surrounding hotels.  The restaurant itself is fairly upscale.  The decor and pricing is decidedly higher-end.

Justin’s offers itself up to parties – as many as 250 people at once.  I’ve been there as a member of smaller parties (20 or less), and the seating has been ample.  I’ve never been seated outside, but apparently they can do that as well.  Parking has only been tight during big parties – usually on weekends – and in the winter.  They do have plenty of space, but the snow seems to cut into the lot during the winter.

Their marketing confuses me just a bit.  The name say’s they’re a “Tuscan Grill,” but the tagline for the place is that they’re a “traditional American steakhouse.”  I’m not really sure about the Italian influence.  They’ve got a number of pasta dishes, sure.  And they use Italian-esque spelling for other menu categories like Pesce (fish) and Insalate (salad), but I’d say if you’re looking for Italian, you’re better served going elsewhere.  This is not to denigrate them in any way!  I just think of Justin’s as an upscale steak house.

Walking in, you’ll see the main dining room directly in front of you, down a short flight of stairs.  Behind that there’s the large open kitchen.  It can be mildly entertaining to watch the work that goes on there.  To your left is a cozy, wood-paneled bar.  It reminds me of something out of the late 19th century, but less fusty and with more glass.  The have at least one small TV on the wall for your viewing pleasure.

Like I said, the place is decidedly upscale, but don’t let that put you off.  You’re likely to see nicely dressed couples out on a date, a lot of business casual, and a number of folks in casual wear.  The staff treats everyone the same, regardless of attire.  The wife wore business casual, and I was slightly scruffy.

The menu is basic; a folded card stock thing showing apps, salads, pasta, meats, and seafood.  They also serve some burgers and sandwiches. and they have a small kids’ menu.  Their wine and drink selections are in other menus.  Not being big drinkers, or overly sophisticated, we were impressed with the selections.  Your opinion may vary.

Both of us chose fish dishes.  My wife opted for Ahi tuna, and I chose the broiled fish platter, consisting of a lobster tail, shrimp, scallops, and a piece each of haddock and salmon.  The wife chose a baked potato as a side, while I got green beans.  We both had water with lemon, and I added a diet soda.

The entrees took a while – maybe 30 minutes.  However, we had a hearty multi-grain bread on hand.  I had no problem with the wait, especially since the meal was worth it.  If you’re looking for fast food, there’s Jimmy John’s sub shop around the corner.

The wife’s tuna was encrusted with white and black sesame seeds, and lightly grilled.  It came with a wasabi-ginger sauce on the plate.  My plate was larger, to accommodate the many items.  Her tuna was around $22, and my fish was $29.  Higher than many prices, but I think the portion size, and the quality of the food, make the entrees worth it.

We shared a little back and forth – I took a bit of her tuna, while she enjoyed half of a sea scallop.  The lobster tail was presented out of the split shell, and tasted delicious.  The large white scallops were firm, but not rubbery, and mildly sweet inside.  The shrimp were smaller, but not tiny.  Definitely not jumbo prawns, but a mouthful each.  A minor complaint – my dish was awash in brine, and almost everything had gone white-ish.  I was afraid everything would taste salty, but was happily surprised that it didn’t.

I don’t normally like salmon.  I find most of it served in restaurants looks and smells like canned salmon – very low end, and low class.  However, this was mild and didn’t taste like that at all.  If you like strong tasting salmon, this won’t make you happy – but it certainly did me.

Our waiter was attentive, but not pushy.  He dropped by to refill our waters, and to find out if we were happy with the meal.  Later he bussed the table and dropped off our bill, which came to around $66 with tax and tip.  I think there’s a coupon in this year’s Entertainment book if you want to save some scratch while having a good time.

The music was older rock stuff, but not too loud.  I know from experience that some of the groups there can be loud, especially ones with younger kids, but tonight the noise level was tolerable.  We were able to converse quietly for the most part.

While I didn’t have steak there tonight, I remember it being a good choice as well.


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