Monday, November 19, 2007

Locanda Vini e Olii
129 Gates Ave (Clinton Hill)
(718) 622-9202

Bread; mixed olives with pink peppercorns & orange rind; herb "pesto"

Lamb prosciutto with peach-rosemary marmalade

Saffron "guitar-string" pasta with sardines, pine nuts, raisins

Papparadelle with rabbit ragout

Warm raddichio salad with cannelini, pancetta, apples

From the website: ..."Never mind those fancy Manhattan Italians… Over the bridge in Brooklyn, there's something amazing going on…a quiet culinary revolution is taking place...
Take Locanda Vini & Olii, for instance. Fran├žois Louy and Catherine de Zagon Louy's place. He's a native of Milan, she grew up in Florence, and they met in the dining room at Celestino in BH. In NY, he ran the dining room at Torre de Pisa and managed for Cipriani…She was general manager of Claudio Gottardo's 5 restaurants, then ran things at Mezzogiorno and Balthazar.
In 1997, she went home to Italy and researched Tuscan cookery. Then the couple turned a 103-year-old Clinton Hill drugstore into a brand-new restaurant...rigorously authentic and unlike almost anything on the menu in Italian restaurants across the city".
- The James Beard Foundation, Jan. 2002

Alexis: We went in last night without a reservation - we had to wait a little bit. The glass cabinets and wooden apothecary drawers are still there, now dislaying various curios & Venetian glass. It's a tiny place, maybe not even 20 tables.

From top to bottom: the mixed olives were good, faintly zingy from the orange zest. The lamb prosciutto also good and went very well with the marmalade. I almost want to try making it at home and using it in place of mint jelly the next time I make lamb.

I had the pasta with the sardines. Their pastas are all homemade. I am not a huge fan of fat/thick pastas so the "guitar strings" were perfect - somewhere between linguine and capellini. I was expecting it to be very salty but it wasn't at all - it was slightly sweet from the raisins.

As a last course we ordered the warm salad. Bitter raddichio, sweet and tart apples, creamy cannelini beans and salty pancetta - I thought it was great. Everything cooked lightly in butter and then drizzled with just the slightest hint of vinegar.

I thought everything was excellent, foodwise. My gripes: very few wines by the glass (only 2 reds, 2 whites) and though the prices are not bad, the portions are a little smaller than I'd like. Though I can concede - you are meant to eat an appetizer, a pasta course, a main, a salad or cheese plate, and then dessert. This is why the portions are so which case, drop a couple bucks off each dish so I can come back more often! I wish I'd taken a look at the dessert menu. This is probably the closest restaurant in NYC that I've been to that comes close to Cara Mia, where I worked in New Jersey.

Alex: I might not be the best person to judge a fancy pants place like this. I will say that the atmosphere was really cool. All of the woodwork from the old drugstore made this place very charming and intimate. To me the food was so-so. The Bread was a little dry when it got to our table. Im not very sure what the green stuff was supposed to be (Pesto I guess) but it was pretty bland. I'm not a huge Olive fan, but the Orange rind gave them a nice zest. The Proschitto had a nice smoky aftertaste that was complimented well with the sweetness of the Pear Marmalade. For my main dish I had the broad Noodles with a Rabbit sauce. I've never had rabbit before so I was interested to see how it tastes. It wasn't very shocking, but does have a slightly different taste from any other meat I've had. The dish reminded me of something my step-mother would throw together and call "Goulash." After I dumped enough pepper on it, it was fairly decent. Finally, the Salad. The Apples were my favorite part with the Raddichio being my least favorite. This was and interesting dish with a lot of different flavors mixed together that somehow worked. Overall I would have to say... Overrated. Maybe I just cant get past the sticker shock.

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