Sunday, April 11, 2010

La Trattoria

Last night we tried a new (to us) restaurant for dinner.  They've been open since November of 2001 and the restaurant is owned by a husband and wife team.  They serve Italian cuisine, mostly Northern Italian in the winter months, more Southern in the summer.  The name of this quaint little restaurant is La Trattoria which means "the cafe" in Italian.  You won't find your typical Americanized, over cheesed Italian food here.  It's more like something you would get if you visited an Italian family and mamma from the old country cooked for you.  They use mostly local and organic foods, serve vegetarian and omnivore alike and have a nice wine list.  The menu changes daily, so you'll never know for sure what your choices will be for that night.  They're small and busy, so make reservations.  (707-822-6101)

Last night this was there menu:
We started with the marinated vegetables, lentil salad, pecarino and salami.  The vegetables were mostly rutabagas, and carrots and they were subtly marinated.  I usually don't care for rutabagas, but these were quite good.  The lentil salad was extrememely simple, a mild sauce and mellow herbs.  The cheese was excellent and the salami locally made and delicious.  We also ordered a bottle of Il Montaggio from our local Fieldbrook Winery

A small house salad that comes with the main course was served next.  A blend of various local and very fresh greens with a mild vinaigrette.

For the main course John ordered the braised pork shoulder in white wine and onions served with scalloped rutagabas and potatoes and barley.  The sauce was so mild that the flavor of the pork stood out on it's own, tender and delcious.  The barley was simply barley, cooked probably, in their own vegetable stock, and was perfectly done.  As I mentioned before I'm not a big rutabaga fan, but the scalloped rutabagas and potatoes were incredible.  John was having what I call a Ratatouille moment. That moment in the movie where the food critic, Antono Ego, is taken back to his childhood with the first bite of his dish or ratatouille.  John felt like he was home having a childhood Sunday dinner.  It was over the top comfort food.
I ordered the potato, leek, and caper ravioli's (they make their own pasta) topped with spinach, fava beans and pecarino cheese (lots of it!) with a basalmic browned butter.
The pasta was perfectly made and cooked.  Like savory little pillows on your tongue.  A perfect blend of the mild soft potato and leek contrasted by the capers.  The spinach was not over done, a brilliant green, and the fava beans were buttery.  The ravioli's didn't have much salt on them, but the pecarino cheese had the perfect amount of saltiness that none was needed, and was an excellent contrast the the basalmic browned butter.  Just enough basalmic to have the flavor, but not be sour.  Heavenly. 
We were too full after dinner to have a big dessert, so we ordered a couple glasses of port.  Benjamin Port, which was served with two small pieces of good chocolate. 

The service was excellent, considering the number of people and that the husband (James Becker) was the only waiter on duty, besides two bus boys, while his wife (Patricial Cambiancica) cooked in back.  There was minimal wait time and the tables were turned quickly but without being rushed.  The prices were reasonable for such good food as well, and I cannot wait to go back and see what they have on their menu the next time.  I highly recommend this restaurant.  It's relaxed, casual, the food is of very high quality, but not pretentious, nor are the owners.  Be sure to check them out.

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