Valentino was hopping Saturday night and I can only guess that it could have been a nightmare for both the BOH and FOH. There was a private party upstairs in the wine room, a party of 16 in the private dining room who had brought enough BYO wine to stock a wine cellar, 2 parties of 8 in the dining room at the left and who knows what was happening in the main dining room. Everyone seemed to descend at once so it was quite a challenge to keep everyone happy and everything humming. Piero, the consummate restaurateur, handled everything with his usual style and aplomb.
As usual we sat at our usual seats at the Vin Bar and just let Piero orchestrate the meal. Since it was so busy, I didn’t want to engage in a long conversation with the staff re the ingredients in each dish so my descriptions are somewhat bereft of minute details.
We started with Ca’ del Bosco, Cuvee Prestige. The wine “hails from Franciacorta, where Italy’s finest sparkling wines are made, from one of the best producers, Ca’ del Bosco. Chardonnay is dominant at 80 per cent, delivering fresh apple notes, and yeasty, nuttty nuances met with lively bead and superb length. Perfectly balanced, it finishes dry – it is a brut after all – but with plenty of ripeness and richness on the palate.”
Kumamoto Oysters, balsamic, extra virgin olive oil – excellent, fresh as could be
Wine: Dorigo, Ribella Gialla 2007 – The wine is made in the hilly regions along Italy’s border with Slovenia
“Quenelles” of tuna tartar and Sicilian Couscous – couscous and tuna is a typical Sicilian combination. The couscous had tiny dice of vegetables – carrots, zucchini. I am not sure what was included in the tuna tartar. The last time we had the tartar, the tuna was marinated with pine nuts, oven-dried cherry tomatoes and olive oil. – I really like this pairing of couscous and tuna tartar as it is a far cry from the ubiquitous tartar preparations all over the city.
Crab salads – On the left Alaskan Red King Crab with Heirloom Tomatoes, Mustard Dressing and on the right Maryland Crab with Cucumber, Mango, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil – For me, I preferred the Alaskan crab salad – there seemed to be more depth of flavor.
Close-up of the Alaskan King Crab
Close-up of the Maryland Crab
Wine: 2007 Ipsus Passito di Pantelleria – sweet and lush with flavors of golden raisins and dried apricots. It is Sicily’s best-known dessert wine made from the Muscat of Alexandria grape, known locally as zibibbo. Pantelleria is a volcanic island off the southwest coast of Sicily.
Seared Foie Gras done Venetian style with Onions Caramelized in Balsamic with Couscous – in a word excellent.
Wine: Valle Reale Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2005 – A beautifully rich aromatic wine, firm but supple
Egg with Shaved White Truffles – OH MY! What is better than runny egg with white truffles – a match made in culinary heaven.
Pennoni stuffed with Proscuitto and Mascarpone with Burrata Cheese Sauce – toothsome pasta, just the right amount of salty meat from the Proscuitto, the silky smooth mascarpone and the rich burrata.
Piero would have done a meat course, a cheese course and a dessert but it was our decision to call it quits – we were quite full.
What more could one want in a restaurant meal than delicious food and gracious service (Guiseppe is back – yippee!!!).