Manager Giancarlo Ibba greeted me as I gazed upon an elegant but casual atmosphere not knowing what to expect. I did check the website's menu planning what I would order until I viewed the chef's tasting menu and certainly made the right choice.
Giancarlo suggested a white Italian wine after given my likes and dislikes. Good choice.
I might as well have a bottle of water from Italy, too.
I then met the chef who talked about his background and particular area of Calabria, Italy that inspired a most creative cuisine. His background is all about cooking as his parents owned a hotel and restaurant and learned to cook at the age of 16.
The menu began with Gambro e pistacchio. Raw shrimp is specially prepared to eliminate the bacteria. It is then pounded out. A combination of pistachio nuts and cold water is mixed to a creamy consistency is rolled into the shrimp (like a cigar). Orange juice is made into a more airy foam and placed atop the shrimp. The dish is then finished off with combination of lemon, olive oil and salt.
It was followed by Branzino. Raw branzino, specially prepared, is marinated in olive oil, lemon and green peppers. Topped with a parmesan reggiano and very thin slices of scallion tops. The plate is then dotted with parsley and lemon reduction. Here is there a contrast of acidity to salty.
I love a salad and this one was more than creative with Gelato insalata. Mermolia simmers red onions in sugar and water until the water evaporates. He then stirs in milk and cream. After being cooled, egg yolk is added to create the gelato.
The salad consists of mesclun greens, poached shrimp, shaved fennel, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and blackberries. It is then garnishes with a bit of caramelized onion atop the gelato. Lemon scented olive oil and balsamic vinegar is drizzled.