Went to Al di la for the first time last night, though we've lived in the slope for over 6 months... we wandered over at 8:00PM (on a Monday night), and were told our wait would be fifteen minutes. We went down the block to their wine bar, where we were told there were tables available right at that moment. We decided to wait to dine in the main room, as it was our first time and we wanted to get the whole experience. We ordered a bottle of Gruner Veltliner ($32), and exactly fifteen minutes later, our table was ready.
We weren't terribly hungry given the heat, so we shared just a few things. We started with the grilled calamari salad with oranges, olives, and arugula. The calamari was perfectly grilled: soft and tender with a good charred flavor. Oranges, olives, and arugula are a classic combination that I always enjoy-- this time was no different. The only complaint I had (and this was recurring) is that the food was sitting right on the edge of overseasoned-- my palate loves salt and even I found it almost too salty. Given the salt and the oil from the vinaigrette and calamari, the salad could have used a touch more acidity to brighten it. But overall it was delicious!
Then we split the gnocchi special with pork ragu and goat cheese. The gnocchi were textbook and the ragu was delicious. The goat cheese melting into the ragu added a nice tang to the richness of the ragu. We sopped up the sauce with the excellent bread.
Next we had the rabbit with creamy polenta. The rabbit was phenomenal, excellently done for what can be a somewhat flavorless meat. The legs were braised in a butter/stock braise with black olives and thyme. Then the legs were taken out and crisped either in the pan or under the broiler-- the result was wonderfully moist meat falling from the bone with crispy delicious edges-- just the part you miss normally in a braise. The polenta was excellent, too. However, this too was heavily salted, almost too much so, and given the richness and saltiness of the sauce, would have benefited from more acidity.
We also had a side of broccoli rabe, standard and tasty (but I would have liked some lemon on it to cut the oil).
We skipped dessert because we were too full. Service was excellent, the atmosphere lively and lovely. I saw a lot of things on the menu that looked good, so will definitely be going back! Glad that we finally got around to going.
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