D’Amico Kitchen

K got us tickets to see puppet musical Avenue Q last weekend and, as luck would have it, the Orpheum is right across the street from the newish D’Amico Kitchen.

The restaurant is a gorgeous space — modern, but not stark, romantic, but not stuffy and cramped, lots of white, but not sterile. The wait staff, wearing all black, fit right in. Young but very knowledgeable about the menu. Our server recommended one of their champagne cocktails, but K went with a glass of wine and I was too tempted by their sparkling lemonade gin drink with basil (sorry, their cocktail menu isn’t online so I don’t have the official name). I enjoy a good gin and tonic and *this* was a superb twist on a gin and tonic.

We started with the albacore tuna crudo with tomato, basil and balsamic gelee. It was icy cold, smooth and mild. I’m also happy to report that albacore tuna gets the thumbs up from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. I’m also happy to report that we were both big fans of the balsamic gelee and would love to figure out how to make it. It was a nice, springy, acidic tiny Jell-O square.

We shared a small order of the ravioli and, in retrospect, we should have ordered more. I almost considered another order for dessert! The pasta was homemade and tender. The bufala ricotta and goat cheese filling was tangy and soft with plenty of cheese goodness. The speck (a type of Italian cured ham) was rich and salty. In short, pasta perfection.

K ordered the veal chop alla Milanese, which was the special for the evening and I ordered the grilled swordfish which I later learned is a big thumbs down on the Seafood Watch list. It was tasty though. Swordfish tends to be a “fishier” fish, but I don’t mind that in most fish. It was thick and steak-like and rested on a bed of grilled sweet peppers and calamata olives with fregola sarda (Israeli couscous or couscous that’s so large it looks like the tapioca balls in bubble tea). The peppers added a nice freshness and the calamata olives added a good, salty brine. The grain was kind of sparse and unevenly cooked, some was more al dente than I would have liked.

The winner was clearly K with the veal chop that was basically an entire breaded leg on a plate with olive oil roasted fingerling potatoes. I don’t eat veal, but I did take a taste and it was really good. Crispy, but not greasy and the meat melted in your mouth. K says he’s still dreaming about the veal chop that was as big as his head.

For dessert we did not share another order of the ravioli, but instead went with the baked almond frangipane crepes. They were sweet, but not too sweet, and reminiscent of marzipan without being cloying.

Dinner and dessert at D’Amico Kitchen was very, very good. My only disappointment was that as a high-end local restaurant, they didn’t seem to care much about local food. Most of the courses (certainly many of the “secondi” courses) offer an opportunity to connect with local farmers and producers. But it seems it was a missed opportunity.

Still, I’d recommend a visit to D’Amico Kitchen at least for their delectable homemade pasta. While you’re there, mention that the chicken under a brick should be a free range chicken! Then enjoy a kicked up gin and tonic to celebrate free range chickens everywhere.

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