Locanda Verde with Mama & Papa Bova
Firstly, thank you Laurie and Tony for a wonderful dinner at Locanda Verde! Our meal involved foodtastic conversation, several instances of my butchering of Italian, and some wet and far-reaching sneezes courtesy of Rachael (just kinda kidding). This time, the food was considerably better than on my last visit. However, the service still very much lacked personalization and attentiveness (aka robot servers). The cold ambiance which I mentioned in my last Locanda Verde post was much warmer this time around, especially given the energetic Bovalicious company. All in all, I had a wonderful meal!
Before our meal at the dinner table, I got to try the delicious Crab Crostini at the bar. I was impressed with how much crab they actually laid onto the bread. The crab was spicy but toned down by a slice or two of cucumber.
After sitting down at a wonderful 4-top by the window, we proceeded to order several appetizers: Lamb Meatball Sliders, Crispy Artichokes, and Sheep’s Milk Ricotta. I’ve had the sliders before and they’re nothing too special. Same as last time. You’ll fare better at the Meatball Shop. The crispy artichokes weren’t actually very crispy at all. I was half-expecting artichoke fried to a crisp, but these guys were still fleshy and soft. Tony pointed out how interesting the accompanying mint sauce was, and it didn’t really seem to serve a purpose. Overall, the artichokes were decent but didn’t have enough of a flavor punch to wow any of us. The ricotta was probably my favorite appetizer (besides the crostini) because of the very well-toasted Italian bread. The ricotta was light and velvety. Its creaminess was out-of-this-world and very different from A Voce’s own glorious ricotta, which is thicker and grainer.
I ordered the Spaghetti with rock shrimp, toasted garlic, and bottarga. My pasta was cooked perfectly, al denté! The shrimp were small but fresh and tender. I love salty foods, but this pasta was too salty with the bottarga. The garlic sauce was very powerful on its own, but the saltiness of the bottarga emphasized this flavor even more. Live and learn! Note to chef: don’t add salt to anything served with bottarga. You don’t want to be responsible for people getting high blood pressure, do you?
Laurie’s Orecchiette with homemade duck sausage and broccoli rabe was amazing! This pasta dish was wonderfully eclectic with savory bacon, bitter broccoli rabe, and smoky parmesan. The homemade pasta embodied quality in every single bite and chew without ever coming off as pretentious, which is what I love about Locanda Verde’s food presentation. Oh, and look at the colors!
Tony loved the Veal Agnolotti that I tried on my first visit. With pancetta and rosemary, you really can’t go wrong. The pasta was flat and wide and beautifully layered onto the dish with a generous helping of the veal sauce.
Unfortunately, Rachael didn’t like her sausage sandwich, and our server really didn’t take care of the situation as well as he should’ve in this caliber of a restaurant. The sausage was unusually pinkish as if it was undercooked. He offered to send the dish back to the kitchen to cook longer but didn’t offer any other options.
Dessert time! Luckily, I had another dessert fiend at the table in the form of Laurie. We shared the Sweet Corn Budino and the Chocolate-Pistachio Tart. Before this meal, I’d never heard of this “budino” thing, but according to ‘ol trusty Wikipedia it’s crème caramel (mmm). The “sweet corn” part of the equation was pretty interesting, because it sounds like it could be really good or really bad. It was really good! This dessert’s texture was a mix between pudding and custard, so it was smoother and creamier than French crème caramels I’ve had in the past. The caramel popcorn was an adorably playful element that went well with the budino. I liked the blueberry sorbet, but I feel like it could’ve been substituted for any other flavor without sacrificing taste.
The chocolate-pistachio tart was delicious and more so for me, because I love chocolate, pistachio, raspberries, and any combination of the three at all times. Rachael thought the chocolate tart was extremely rich, but pour moi, it was light and airy, yet preserved a richness wholly attributable to flavor (rather than density). The only problem with the dessert? The pistachio gelato melted too fast!!!
I’ll always love Locanda Verde’s interior and exterior design, but two things need to improve to live up to all the hype from food critics, food blogs, and yuppies: service and food execution. The ideas are all there, but it’s going to take a little more detail to make it extraordinary.
P.S. This disappearing act I have going on might turn into a trend (blame school, work, internship, life), but I’ll try my hardest to spread food love on LSDF as often as possible. Forgive me in advance!