|Locanda's Jewish Style Artichoke is a must-try|
Seriously?!? That's like, the worst luck ever. From there, it was a mad dash to find something for a party of 5 on super late notice. More than anything, I was disappointed about not getting to try the new restaurant from the Delfina peeps.
Fortunately, I got my chance just a couple days later. The restaurant was extremely accommodating in rebooking me, so we took advantage in one of several good-bye dinners for my boyfriend who moved to L.A. last week.
Our dinner party included me, Colvin, one of our baseball analysts Shawn Estes, and his lovely girlfriend Nathalie. Fortunately, they were totally down with my favorite way of eating, which is that we share our food family-style. They also didn't seem annoyed when I insisted on snapping photos of everything.
We started with several of their unique cocktails as well as some delicious antipasti. Locanda is Italian food, but specifically, it's Roman cuisine. Jewish-style globe artichokes are a quintessential Roman dish, and this is definitely something to get here. It's fried to a crisp in hot oil, sprinkled with salt, dusted with lemon juice, and topped with fresh mint. It's like eating the best potato chip you've ever had and then finding a delicious surprise in the middle when you get to eat the artichoke heart.
We also sampled another artichoke dish...this one was fried artichoke hearts and sweetbreads (left). This might have been my favorite appetizer. The breading is super light and it was topped with fresh herbs and capers with a little lemon. I love that combo. We also ordered carciofi crudi (middle), which was a salad with wild arugula, avocado and grilled ricotta ...giving the term "grilled cheese" a fresh new outlook. Finally, we got an order of their popula pizza bianca (bottom right). In Rome, pizza bianca isn't pizza in a traditional sense, but more toasted bread with olive oil and sometimes toppings. Ours was topped with crushed figs and prosciutto. It was good, but not my favorite dish of the night.
For me, the pastas were the star of the meal. We all shared everything, but I ordered the cuscini (left), which was similar to a ravioli and filled with burrata and gulf shrimp. Shawn ordered the rigatoni alla carbonara (right), which was guanciale, egg, pecorino and black pepper. Ironically, Shawn liked mine the best and I liked the carbonara most. Both were delicious. I think the thing I appreciated most is they were both prepared with relatively simple flavors, which really allowed the ingredients and the pasta to shine...just as you would experience in Italy. The pasta is house-made and as you would expect, cooked to a perfect al dente.
As for the other mains, Colvin got the grilled halibut collar with garum (fish sauce) and fried capers and served with sauteed wax beans. The halibut was cooked on the wood grill, which is my favorite preparation of fish. It makes it very flavorful and keeps the insides moist and flakey. Nathalie got the fried amish rabbit with okra and bagna rosso. This was very good, but after all of the fried stuff we had earlier in the meal, it sort of started to taste the same. I would probably stick to the fried artichokes and go another direction for mains next time. In fact, even though I really enjoyed the halibut, I would probably recommend sticking to starters and pasta.
The portions were on the smaller side but not tiny...and that left plenty of room for dessert! We ordered the warm chocolate cake (left) and the sheep's milk budino (right). The budino was served with slow roasted strawberries, campari, and candied orange peel. Don't get me wrong, I loved this. It was light, with just the right amount of fruit and tartness, and I'm really into sheep's milk products at the moment. HOWEVER....the chocolate cake? Yes. The answer to that question is yes. It was almost like a lava cake because the inside was warm and gooey and heavenly. The candied nut clusters and almond milk gelato perfectly finished off the dish. And you know what they say...when in Rome...