Friday, January 25, 2013

totally taken by TOSCA (1-24-13)

As we entered TOSCA ( last night, we mentioned that it had been many years since our last visit. The hostess reminded me that it was indeed 5 years! Oops.

Well, there is a reason for our long delay and was due to the disappointing departure of our friend, Chef Cesare Lanfranconi. Time heals, and we returned with friends to discover the fine Italian dining establishment still running smoothly with excellent cuisine and as always, a wonderful staff.

It was hard to decide whether to order a tasting menu or a la carte, so we mused over the options while quaffing a superb DOLCETTO d'ALBA "Casa Vinola" 2011 from Bruno Giacosa. Ultimately, three of us choose the shorter fish tasting menu and our other friend went for the Insalata Radicchio (with Bartlett Pears, Gorgonzola Terrine and Toasted Walnuts), the FETTUCCINE (with Rosemary & Thyme in a Roasted Leg of Wild Boar Ragu with olives and Salsify) and the VEAL CHOP with Baby Chard and Artichokes all of which got high grades.

Before we started a gorgeous amuse of a head-on PRAWN with Fennel Sauce (really puree) & Brussels Sprouts. The fennel was as mild as could be and the seasoning on the prawn was superb, so much so that I had to suck all that delish flavor out of the yummy head! Miniature Tomato Bruschetta with shaved Ubriaco also arrived as did the tasty breads (focaccia and country style).

The tasting menu can be ordered with wines and we decided to do that which was an excellent choice for the 4 wines were $45 total. First came INSALATA d'ASTICE, a salad chock full of LOBSTER with Heirloom CAULIFLOWER, Burrata with Caviar and a Diavola Sauce. This dish was chilled and frankly divine, but I couldn't help wishing for something warmer on one of the coldest nights of the year. I think the lobster would be a perfect warm-weather dish. The wine was a perfect FEUDI di SAN GREGORIO 2010 Fiano d'Arelinno, which is always a great choice in any Italian restaurant.

The pasta course was PANSATI, small ravioli filled with CRAB & ARTICHOKE with yummy Black Trumpet Mushrroms in a delish White Wine and Mussel Sauce. It was rich, but just the right size not to be too filling. SOAVE CLASSICO was from Suavia (a new winery for me) 2009 "Monte Carbonare," and the creamy wine was again perfect with the dish.

Our main coarse was the highlight of the meal and the perfectly cooked MERLUZZO (COD) was roasted in a HAZELNUT Crust and served over a bed of Black Truffle CABBAGE with Rainbow Marble POTATOES with Capers and a Brown Butter Sauce. The crust was perfect and the cabbage was a new take with the truffle infusion. BARBERA d'ALBA "Costerno Fantino" 2009 from Vignota was a heavier red than the Dolcetto and a brilliant choice for this huge fish dish that begged for red wine rather than the too-often-assumed white. Our excellent server Atilo was even nice enough to give an extra pour of the superb wine.

This tasting menu comes with the modernized TIRAMISU in a martini glass created by Chef Cesare when it opened 11 years ago (Tosca is actually named for his daughter) and is still excellent. We tried several different desserts as well:

Bichhiere al PECAN is a Pecan Sundae with Vanilla Gelato with both Chocolate & Bourbon Caramel Sauces

with Cranberry Compote

Tartella al Pomopelmo is a Pink GRAPEFRUIT tart with Grapefruit curd, sweet Mascarpone, almond macaron, basil gelee, Campari syrup and crispy meringue --sadly I can't do the grapefruit thing!

Tortino al Cioccolato-WARM CHOCOLATE CAKE with vanilla gelato, poached kumquats and Sicilian pistachios was mine and got raves from those who tasted for the molten chocolate cake (Sam would have adored this) and the genius addition of the salted Pistachios!

MALVASIA Della Lipari 2007 was a perfect dessert wine with these very sweet tastes, which were followed by a small plate of chocolate cookies and even better, salted oatmeal spice cookies!!!

Now that we have been back, we promise not to take so long to return to TOSCA.