Saturday, January 3, 2009

exquisitely expensive

a little while back our friends (who actually worked on the space) invited us to dinner at spinasse since they had been there several times, raved about it, and told us we should all go some time. the interior is intimate and warm with a handful of small tables and one long, communal table. i love the old lady lace curtains which lend a homey authenticity to the space. the menu is brief, but well designed.

we asked the server for a wine suggestion, and she recommended a nebbiolo since it would be medium-bodied and drinkable before and during dinner. J and i decided on a Vietti 2006 Nebbiolo. fruity and delicious.

the house started us with some bruschetta. the first was fresh ricotta and olives.

the second was spinach and garlic. both were tasty and crisp, whetting my appetite for pasta. i was really into the ricotta bruscetta because it was also dressed with rich olive oil, my favorite.

since we had a party of 5, we decided to get two orders of antipasto misto della casa. below are the chicory/guinea hen/parmiggiano/balsamic salad and spinach fritatta covered in tiles of black truffle.

the other half of our antipasti course was pure meat, well almost: a cherry tomato stuffed with anchovies and dressed with a parsley pesto, vitello tonnato, prosciutto and grissini, and salame with roasted leeks. i liked the anchovy/pepper deal, but there was only one, and there were five of us. even though we got two orders of antipasti misti, that meant splitting two peppers among five guests. what the hell?!? is it really too much to ask for three peppers per $28 plate? i didnt eat any of the meat, but i was told it was great. M's favorite was the vitello tonnato, which is a traditional dish of tender veal topped with a smooth mixture of tuna, olive oil, and capers.

we also ordered a couple of vegetable sides. the first was a simple ceci con limone e prezzemolo (garbanzos with lemon and parsley). it was simple, tasty, and well-prepared, but J also made this dish a few days later at home, and it was just as good. i know spinasse is a whole experience, but sometimes it makes you question the bang-for-your-buck factor.

the rape saltatti (sauteed turnips) were tender and savory, sauteed in their own greens. also pictured are the ravioli di tapinambur al burro e salvia con pignoli, or jerusalem artichoke ravioli with butter, sage, and pine nuts. they were delicious, fresh, and well-paired with two of my favorite ingredients, sage and pine nuts.

J chose the maltagliatti (wide irregularly cut pasta) with hedgehog mushrooms and butter. i really enjoyed this dish as well. the pasta was perfectly toothy and obviously handmade to order. there is no substitute for fresh pasta.

unfortunately i didn't capture G or M's pasta choices, but they were tajarin al ragu and tajarin al burro con salvia, which are both thin, handcut pastas with a meat sauce and sage butter. the tajarin was also tasty, toothy, and refreshing. however, i don't know if i would return to pay $19 for a small bowl of pasta with butter and sage.

after we had all finished our pasta courses, we completely forgot that G and M ordered the braised goat! it came significantly after the pasta simply because it took that long to cook, but M and G said it was worth the wait. the goat was falling-off-the-bone tender, naturally sticky sweet, and perfectly reflective of fall flavors. we asked the chef how he cooked it, and he said it was only salt, pepper, and garlic on a bed of onion, carrot,and celery. it was really the standout star of the evening.

the overall quality and taste were extremely high, but i don't think i would go there again after G made pasta at home. it was about $400 without tip (i think) including two bottles of wine. despite the taste factor, spinasse is not a good value. $19 for a small bowl of pasta is pretty ridiculous, and c'mon, only one anchovy-stuffed pepper per antipasti plate?!?! no thanks. spinasse is great, just not worth it.

Cascina Spinasse on Urbanspoon

nb: it's super busy at any given time, so if possible, make reservations!


Anonymous said...

If you want a sweet pasta deal go to spaghetti night at spring hill on monday nights. Its all balls no sweater vests and dudes with make-up!

tekkadon juan said...

good tip...i'll have to look into that. ive still never been to spring hill but it is on my very short lists of places i need to visit in 09. thanks!

Suge White said...

good review. I feel just about the same as you. I did get to eat them eat which was great and even with the meat the ration of good/cost was still off. For a vegetarian it would be way farther out of wack.

Also, I hated the lace curtains.

White Pepper said...

Looks rich. Yay garbanzo beans!
Nice post.

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