Saturday, August 29, 2015

Back in the USA, Roberto Donna makes our day at Roberto's 8 at AL DENTE (8-26-15)

We had such a great time about 7 weeks earlier dining at AL DENTE with Chef Roberto Donna cooking at Roberto's 8 (his eight seat "mini-bar" open to the kitchen where you schmooze with the chef and get a show as well) that we went back again this week with another couple. It really was just Roberto's 4 as the other seats were empty; few folks want huge meals in this heat, but we had a ball.
From the second we arrived, manager Cliff and our server, Jose insured our glasses were always full and we were happy and never lost their smiles; this truly makes a meal special as well.
We started with an APEROL Aperitivo of Mozzarella di Bufala, Olive,  and aperol with a lemon rind crunch that I loved. This was served with Clara C Prosecco which lasted for several courses and got us bubbly and cheerful for the evening.
What has to be some of the best focaccia in town arrived and while some of us gobbled up several pieces, I limited myself to one, knowing that there was much more to eat.
The adorable pizzetta in a box was the same as July with Sweet Vidalia Onions, Fontina, Soft Quail Egg & Truffle, and frankly I could eat this kind of pizza every week, not just once every 8 weeks!
Tigelle was my first experience (that I can recall) with this small version of a Panini that came with Salamino, Black Olive, Goat Cheese Burrata & Pickled Onions and Ramps, and again, who wouldn't like a little (or big) sandwich like this?
We moved to Leonardo de Toh! from which is a slightly earthy white friulano grape that was for the next several courses.
It paired very well with the Tuna & Octopus as they are indeed earthy dishes.
Tubnas was a tartare with Green Tomato & Roasted Tomato, Basil-Mint Oil, frisee salad and shoots, but it is the Octopus that we love here cooked so tender and served with Cannellini Beans, Spring Onions, Yogurt Sauce and Sweet Drop Pepper, yet brought to the table in a glass dome full of smoke and spice that wafts up your nose as the dome is revealed. Not only is it dramatic, it is ecstatic in taste and will always be one of my favorites here.
Head-On Shrimp with Saffron Mayonnaise is tasty and fun, but I would gladly take two servings of the polpo instead :-)).
We switched wines to a Depie Rose Campi Flegrei from Campagna that was fruity, fun and dry. This went amazingly well with the Corn Soup with Sausage Crumble which was spicy and had a nice kick cutting through the veloute of sweet corn. This was one of the new dishes not on the July menu that I also fell in love with.
A dinner at Roberto's 8, 4 or anything else wouldn't be complet with his signature Eggs, Black Truffle and Burrata. Chefs takes his presentation cue from the late Jean-Louis Palladin(who used eggs a lot), who was also his dear friend, and presents the dish in the eggshell but scrambles the eggs with buratta and truffle for supreme richness making it totally Italian and totally his own ultimate creation.
For the first pasta dish (those who know, there are usually three here) was also a new dish for the summer with Open Raviolo, Sea Scallops, Chives & Shitake that was just slightly creamy, but not overly rich and of course, the pasta can not be beat.
We switched wines to a Luceres Poggetto 2006 which had a tobacco nose and drank as smooth as silk. It served the Spagetti alla Chitarra quite well and I noticed that Chef Roberto has increased his spice in this dish, which I always adore, here with Pancetta & Clams. Third on the pasta plan was Risotto with Black Truffles & Gorgonzola, and indeed I can't remember risotto being richer except in tow other dishes in my life and that was under the guidance of Chef Roberto in the guise of white truffle risotto and foie gras risotto; perhaps they shall be on future Roberto's 8 menus.
The "main" course Prosciutto wrapped Squab with Dates & Spinach, which was our same dish earlier this summer and indeed is perfect on these hot nights as too much big meat can be silly. We were all nearing full and quite happy as we guzzled down our lovely Tuscan red.
Castelmagno Cheese with Honey, Hazelnut, Mostardo di Cremona and a flat thin crispy flatbread like cracker across the top was beautiful and a light but superb cheese interlude followed by a super refreshing Peach Fruit Granita.
Desserts semmed to come one upon the other starting with a refreshing Panna Cotta with Caramel Sauce, Tiramisu with burnt coffee cookie crisps, mascarpone and chocolate with coffee caviar and the most heavenly Fig Tart with Vanilla Gelato (which we also had in July, but welcomed again with open mouths).
Bicerin is that superb espresso doused with rich chocolate which is how the meal is always finished here, unless you go for an after dinner drink, but this night was indeed different from all other nights as we had eaten way too much and yearned for a rest. It was the best way to be welcomed home from our recent trip, as if we had not had enough huge tasting meals and feasts in Ireland; it's good to be back home with friends.