First up for small plates was the bread service. On the day we visited, it was a rosemary and sun-dried tomato focaccia, freshly baked with beautiful air pockets and a chewy-soft inside. The crust was crisp and perfectly seasoned. We got our own little piping-hot round loaf and a plate of truffle butter to spread on it. It was so hard to eat just one piece. The little tang of the sun-dried tomatoes paired with that salt-speckled crust was such a delight.
We also opted for two of the restaurant’s seasonal pasta offerings: the gnocchi stroganoff and the raviolo al uovo. The gnocchi was our favorite. In addition to the pillowy, fluffy little dumplings, the dish featured super-tender braised beef and huge pieces of wild mushrooms that had a meaty texture and earthy flavor. The sauce was rich and comforting, but there were bursts of bright freshness too, thanks to pickled leeks and microgreens.
The raviolo was a fun dish to dig into. It featured one large raviolo with an herby ricotta filling and an egg yolk inside. It was served with shrimp and some bright roasted veggies: sugar snap peas, asparagus and radish. While the pasta was tender and the filling delicious (and I adore an egg-filled ravioli), we both thought the veggies and shrimp needed salt.
For a side sip, I tried and loved the Italian Iced Tea, with Amaro Montenegro, elderflower, Fernet Branca, honey syrup and lemon.
We finished up our meal by trying one of the desserts: the strawberry-basil tart. While the tart itself was delicious (featuring vanilla sponge cake and macerated strawberries), it was the strawberry-basil ice cream on top that was our favorite part. Strawberry plus basil is a pairing that just works, and in ice cream format it had a touch of surprise as well. The fresh, herbaceous flavor kept me going back for nibble after nibble. It was the perfect ending to our downtown dinner.