By Chan Lowe, Sun Sentinel
1:49 p.m. EDT, November 3, 2011
Overall impression: Dinner begins with a warm greeting from Marco, the new co-owner, who welcomes you into the cozy, 10-table dining room that used to be a private home. The pitched ceiling is festooned with little party lights, but the atmosphere beneath is warm, dark and intimate. He presents a menu that contains just enough to entice, but not overwhelm. And a surprise awaits on the back page: a selection of Tuscan specialties that includes dishes featuring wild rabbit, duck, venison and wild boar. Right away, you know this is going to be a unique evening. Marco carefully explains every ingredient in loving detail, adding that the chef is happy to alter any dish to suit the diner’s preference. Dishes can even be created to order. When you ask whether the artichoke-stuffed ravioli is available without tomato sauce, for example, he delightedly responds, “Of course! Would you prefer olive oil and garlic? Tomato sauce is only for tourists, anyway.” And thus begins a feast for all the senses. Luxury dining experiences simply don’t come any better than this.
Starters: Go with friends and order a big selection of antipasti. Parma prosciutto ($16) is bursting with flavor and so thin as to be translucent, accented with honeydew and wild berries. Bresaola ($15), cured beef tenderloin, comes on a bed of marinated artichoke hearts, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and a tart lemon dressing. Again, the emphasis is on the concentrated power of the beef flavor, perfectly balanced against background greens. Burrata ($20) — soft buffalo mozzarella which, when punctured, spills its creamy contents out onto the prosciutto and artichoke hearts that surround it — is often offered as a special. While pasta is served as a main course in the U.S., it is often a precursor to an entree in Italy. We followed tradition and ordered two dishes to share between four. Linguine with fresh little neck clams ($26) in a sauce of olive oil, garlic and crushed pepper, was simplicity itself, and relied entirely on the excellence of its ingredients. The lobster-stuffed ravioli ($27) came drenched in a concoction of cherry tomatoes, sherry and cream that was practically addictive.
Entree excellence: Truffled polenta with a ragout of wild boar sausage ($20) stood out for the way the delicately seasoned corn meal artfully tamed the gamey flavor of the boar. Duck breast with roasted ginger and wine sauce ($30) was so rich as to be practically a sweet syrup. The marinated dark meat breast tasted like wild filet mignon, if such a thing existed.
Bring your appetite and join us for fun, family entertainment and lots of food
Sweet: Dessert tray temptations ($8) include wild berry-topped creme brulee (absent the traditional caramelized crust, which is a good choice in this case), regular creme brulee, tiramisu and ricotta cheesecake. They reflect the same imagination and craftsmanship of earlier courses.
Service: Unobtrusive, yet attentive that leaves out not a single detail including the careful scraping away of crumbs between each course and the immediate replacement of any used utensil.
Liquid assets: Savvy diners should be sure to ask for the two complimentary drinks. Sgroppino — to be sipped before eating to prepare the palate — is a slush made from prosecco and fruit sorbet. And to finish off a fine meal is grappa — a fiery cordial that could do double duty as torpedo fuel.