Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pizzuto's Sunday Dinner

Tonight Dan & I headed down the block for some drinks with Matt, Mark, and Peter, then the lot of us headed up the road to Pizzuto's Italian Cafe for a special chef's dinner. From what I understand, Chef Cory Pizzuto visited Italy recently and was inspired to do a series of special family-style Sunday dinners that celebrate various regions of the country. Tonight's dinner was the second, and we all booked spots far in advance for a chance to enjoy Chef Cory's creations.

When we arrived, we found our places assigned with great handmade seating cards letting us know just where to sit, and the table already set up with breadsticks and olives to nosh on. Soon after sitting down, we were given a flute of champagne (or perhaps prosecco?) to sip.

Once everyone was settled, Chef Cory came out to introduce himself and the meal, which started off with a hearty soup which I believe was a Minestra di Pane e Ribollita - a vegetable soup with bread. The bread in his version took the form of croutons nestled amongst the carrots, potatoes, celery, herbs and broth.

Next up was a salad that's a favorite of his mother's - arugula with walnuts, goat cheese, pears and honey. I really liked the spiciness of the greens with the pungent creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness of the honey and pear.

The pasta course featured the simple flavors of salt & pepper with a white sauce over a pasta (bucatini, I believe) that was like a thick hollow spaghetti - or almost like macaroni not cut into short lengths. The chef warned us that despite it's similar appearance to spaghetti, the hollow center makes slurping these noodles impossible. I liked the simplicity of flavors in this dish, showcasing the two cornerstones of seasoning - salt & pepper.

For our main course, there was much pontificating and hoping at our table... and when Chef Cory announced he'd prepared a veal involtini, me and another guest both did little cheers. This particular involtini featured sage and potato rolled inside the veal, and it was finished off with a rich red sauce.

The dessert course was a new take on tiramisu, inspired by a similar version served at the only spot open during a snowstorm during his visit. Served almost like a cocktail (in fact, served in a martini glass in Italy), it was a delicious coffee marscapone creme with a drizzle of something delicious and garnished with a single ladyfinger. It was a perfect finish to an amazing meal.

The servings of both the food and wine (each course had a pairing) were satisfying but not so much that you felt uncomfortable after eating 5 courses - nor drunk from 5 glasses of wine. My favorite wine was, I believe, from the South of Italy... and I'm hoping I can find out more about it.

I'm also hoping Pizzuto's continues with the Sunday dinners, and we can score seats at some in the future. The next one (April 18th) is apparently selling fast already!

Pizzuto's Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon

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