You’d be surprised to learn how hard it can be for dining critics to find volunteers to join them on a review. So imagine my joy when, after inviting friends and family to join me at Kenny’s Italian Kitchen, I was flooded with gushing replies. “Oh, please,” my sister-in-law said. “I’m dying to go there.” We sashayed up to the hostess stand on a stormy Monday night around 6:30 and were placed on a 30-minute waitlist. The bar was three deep, and the dining room was jammed. Two hours later, I left confused. There is nothing special about the food at Kenny’s. It’s basically enormous portions of familiar red-sauce-Italian fare served in a Godfather-meets-Sopranos setting complete with stereotypical red-and-white checkered tablecloths anchored with straw-wrapped Chianti bottles. The meatballs were bland, and all of the pastas we tried were overcooked. My baked ziti was submerged in a sea of marinara mixed with Alfredo sauce. Three bites of such richness and I was out. Ditto for the thick, creamy spaghetti carbonara topped with a fistful of bacon. We asked our server to recommend a seafood entrée, and he informed us that he really didn’t like fish and that he worked there because it helped with his ADD. We chose Copper River salmon, but it was past its prime. I warned my sister-in-law not to eat it, but she did. The next day she sent me an email: “I’ve been up with stomach cramps since 3 am. I think I’m dying.” Guess it will be awhile before I get her back in the dining rotation.

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