Monday, November 04, 2013

Baltimore's CINGHIALE is a good choice (11-3-13)

Last night we were in Baltimore for dinner and chose CINGHIALE( for numerous reasons:
1)It's a product of Cindy Wolf & Tony Foreman of Charleston, Petit Louis,Pazo and more
2)They offer complimentary valet parking in the very busy Fell's Point area
3)The food is Italian, but top class, and we knew Sam could always get a pasta
4)It was only 6 minutes from the opera house where had seen a matinee of TOSCA!
We arrived at 6:15pm and the place was deserted. We were told that Sundays in football season are indeed dead!
It did fill up a bit through the evening, but we never complained as it was quiet and calm and the service was very good.
Paprika-Pumpkin Focaccia and Sourdough arrived with EVOO and Sam was happy with that. He quickly ordered the
CASUNSEI which are ravioli stuffed with sausage here served in Sage/Butter Sauce with Fresh Parmesan. It was gone quite fast. We tasted and they were excellent.
You can order a la carte or choose the small or larger prix fixe and we went for the $62 per person  which includes one each from salumi or antipasti, small portion primi, secondi & dolci.
It was a very good deal. We ordered a bottle of 2010 Barbera d'Alba Pelisseru "Piani" recommended by our server, Nicole, and it was a great choice as a lighter red with our starters:
Will chose the simple CARNE CRUDA of Veal Tenderloin with Robiola & Quail Egg which was gorgeous tartare but needed fresh pepper (which was not offered, we asked). I like my tartare with a bite and this was a bit lame. My Butternut SQUASH SOUP with Sweet Potato, Snails and Matsutake Mushrooms was divine, even Samuel raved about the soup (not the snails!). It was perfect for that first cold autumn day which yesterday was.
Our dream of a server Nicole brought out a complimentary plate for us of the dreamy rich Torchione of FOIE GRAS with a dash of sea salt, Local Poached Pear, Win Santo and Mustard Seed on chopped Quince which was a novel condiment, but it worked. EVOO soaked crostini were on the side.
Next came the 1/2 pasta portions which for Will was a superb Straw Smoked Potato GNOCCHI with Venison Goulash. My CHESTNUT TAGLIATELLE with Matsutake & Parmesan was less exciting. I was expecting a Chestnut Sauce and not a chestnut-flavored pasta, which really had little exceptional nut flavor to it. It was a decent pasta, for sure, but not what I was wanting.

We moved on to a divine VILL e PRATA 2004 Brunello di Montalcino that was earthy and opened up after a while (we had it decanted early on which was a good move) that was an amazing $87 on the menu for this fabulous vintage and just ready to drink now wine.
By the time our mains arrived, the wine was divine:
Will had a superb Grilled MAGRET of DUCK with Chestnut Puree, Chanterelles, Bosc Pears, Cider Reduction & Mustard (which Sam loved), and I adored my huge portion of Grilled Pennsylvania VENISON with Braised Red Cabbage, Huckleberries, Matsutake Mushrooms (yes, again) and Juniper Reduction. It was so huge I took home two of the five (or was it six) medallions! Despite the fact that Sam loves my bambi(venison) Bolognese at home, he doesn't seem to care for the loin!
Will & I decided on the cheese for dessert as we saw the trolley when we arrived. We chose 5 and they were all on the harder and not too exciting side:
Spresseta di Capra (rich tangy goat from Piemonte)
Fiore Sardo (nutty sheep from Sardinia)
Tallegio (which could have been riper-cow from Lombardy)
Mastorazio (aged pecorino from Campania) which Sam loved as it's similar to Parmesan
and the rich strong Gorgonzola Piccante aged 200 days (from Lombardy)

These came with some crostini, but needed something else to make the plate a bit more interesting.

We had a good meal and went home full for sure. Cinghiale is good choice though despite the few small flaws. Next time we will be more careful in our choices and skip the cheese for the dolci instead!