Saturday, February 11, 2012
A friend of mine went to Trattoria #10 recently and liked it. He recommended it to me because they were doing a beer and charcuterie tasting and he thought that it would be right up my alley. It did sound pretty cool to me so I decided to go. I did really enjoy it. I will first say that when I went, it was a little difficult to find. The street side profile is just a little wider than the door because the restaurant exists in the basement. The tasting was set up like a cocktail party with two tables where people were serving beer (There were 9 Italian craft brews), and two tables serving a wide variety of charcuterie and cheese including proscuitto, capicola, bacon, finochietta, summer sausage, two blue cheeses, fontina, and a sharp cheddar. While there were stools at the bar, most of the tables and chairs had been cleared to allow people to move around and socialize. The dining area looked to be one large room with several side rooms. All I saw was the main room so that is all I can talk about. The room has pillars and arches similar to a catacomb and the wall art depicts the Italian countryside. The food, the event, and the space were all very good so when I was called and invited to try their actual menu, I jumped at the chance. My reservation was at 6:30 which usually means that the space will be mostly empty when I arrive but will fill up as I am dining. I was a little surprised when I arrived to see a full house until I remembered that the restaurant is within a couple of blocks of several theatres. While the dining area was full, my service was excellent.
The menu is divided into appetizers, cold appetizers, ravioli and pasta and risotti (which are served as either appetizers or entrees), and secondi (main entrees). While I did consider ordering something from every section, I wasn't sure if I would be able to eat everything so I didn't order a secondi, going instead for two appetizers and an entree size portion of pasta. I also was planning on having dessert but I was going to have to finish dinner first before thinking about it. My first course was the beef carpaccio which was served with spinach, pancetta, red onions, mushrooms, french fried onions, Parmiagiana Reggiano, and garlic-thyme vinaigrette. It was very colorful, tender, and flavorful, with the various components going very well together. While the various parts could be eaten separately, it was so much better when eaten together.My second course was the polenta. While I had never had polenta before, I knew that it was essentially boiled cornmeal. The polenta that I was served was formed into a couple of wedge cakes and served with house made sausage, carmelized onions, rapini, Parmesan, garlic and demi-glace. It was very good, the flavor was very savory, but the texture of the polenta reminded me of something. It wasn't until later that I realized that it reminded me of tamale masa. Of course tamale masa is also boiled corn meal so that shouldn't be a surprise.
People that know my eating habits might think that I chose my pasta dish solely because of the meat that it was served with. While admittedly it was a factor, it wasn't the whole decision. I chose it when I was thinking about the possibility of ordering a secondi and thinking about the flow of the meal. I ordered the farfalle pasta with duck confit, asparagus, pearl onions, mushrooms, and pine nuts. I have to say that this was probably the best pasta that I have had in quite a while and this is just considering the pasta. It was cooked perfectly. It was toothsome and had a slightly salty flavor. The duck and vegetables just added to it. The sauce was minimal consisting primarily of the pasta water but the dish really didn't need it.
This had been a very good meal and I could have stopped there but I like to at least look at the dessert menu before ruling it out. There are many very good Italian desserts so I wasn't going to leave without at least looking. Having said that, I knew that I was going to have to go a little light because I was starting to feel full. I ordered a pistachio semi-freddo (Italian for half frozen) with a sweet red wine sauce and an anise seed wafer. I am not sure what the semi-freddo was made of. It was cold and had a lot of pistachios but it seemed softer than ice cream. If I had to guess, I would assume it was a custard. The wine sauce both added color and a sweet tartness to the entire thing and the anise seed cookie was very light and added the slight licorice flavor that anise provides.
I really enjoyed my meal here and will be glad to come again. The food is very fresh and I think I have found my new favorite Italian place.