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Alto Review (Long)

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Alto Review (Long)

Raymond | Oct 21, 2005 04:28 PM

I had the opportunity to go to Alto for the first time last night and the food was good to amazing with a few distractions in the mix.

We were escorted to our table in the corner of the side room, not in the main room as I had hoped. We were seated next to a rather loud group toting backpacks, carrying on about business and constantly getting up and down. Before given menus I asked to be moved but was told the next 2 top would be at least an hour. Rather than kill an hour at the small front bar we decided to stay put and make do. It took some time for a waiter to come, to see a menu or order some wine but I was determined to make the best of the situation and was really excited to try Chef Conant's new menu. So on to the food....

The bottle of wine arrived and things were looking up as the amuse was placed in front of us. A thin rectangular slice of blue fin tuna with preserved truffles and carrots was quite nice and a great opener to the meal. Rich, salty and yet not overpowering, I was getting excited.

For appetizers, the braised beef cheek was really wonderful, ultra tender just falling apart it had a lovely smoky flavor and was quite delicious. The wagyu beef carpaccio with truffles, sprouts and carrots was slightly disappointing though. The beef was beyond paper thin and was completely stuck to the plate, had to scrap it off the plate and eat it in small piles off my fork. Something that comes from plating the dish well in advance I think. Anyway, it just didn't do it for me almost as it was nearly identical to tuna amuse I just finished.

Next were the pumpkin ravioli and agnolotti dal plin. Didn't try the pumpkin ravioli but was told they were excellent, not mind blowing but very good. The parmesan foam atop the agnolotti was nice but didn't add a whole lot of flavor while it did take away much of the visual for the plate. But it was still an amazing dish, don’t get me wrong. The chicken, pork, veal and fontina filling was delicate yet flavorful. Again there were truffles, or rather truffle oil in this dish but I think I would have preferred this dish without truffle oil, as is was slightly overpowering for the delicate agnolotti.

For entrees we had venison and suckling pig.... ahhhh the highlights of the night for sure. The venison was probably the best I've ever had and the pig was so flavorful with a very nice side of braised cabbage and what was called “gnocchi." The "gnocchi" was a large disc of semolina and parmesan with the texture of a steamed pudding but was a nice match for the plate. The rare venison was an amazing beet red color, the sauce was out of this world and overal a great dish, highly recommended.

For desserts I opted for three cheeses which were very nice and their accompaniments worked well here. Petit fours were excellent; my favorites were the passion fruit jelly and the chocolate drop, very well done. With a reasonable bottle of red from Alto Adige, tax and good tip dinner was about $350.

By and large a good experience but the service, room and adjacent dinners were a constant distraction and did take away from the overall experience. I'd love to go back and give it another shot as soon as I have some more cash to splurge with.

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