Last night I had one of my top five pasta dishes ever--Oliveto's pici with Paine Farm pigeon livers was about the best possible execution for a liver lover. The little liver nuggets were cooked in vin santo with caramelized onions, the wonderful fond deglazed to make just a rich essence that clung to the chewy noodles. Oh yeah. They've got these pasta plates now for the appetizer-sized portions with a rim twice the width of the bowl. It puts this jewel of caloric perfection into an appropriately dramatic frame.
My main was the porchetta, and it was no let-down. A slice of the spit-roasted wild boar belly tucked around a piece of the loin looked almost like a giant round pancetta. The loin was topped with a well-concentrated salsa of minced caramelized fennel, and the wheel of meat lay atop some deeply-scented garbanzos that nicely cut the richness. I finally get it, about how fennel seeds can brown on a roast and become not at all bouncy or licorice-y in flavor, but instead transform into something dark, haunting, and somehow very adult.
Hubby had the spezzatino of the same wild boar, with carrots, asparagus and artichokes. It was an amazing counterpoint to the porchetta--also with deeply concentrated flavor, but saucy and bright rather than unctuous.
And the guy at the next table was doing magic tricks with cards and ropes. What more can you want on a rainy Tuesday night?
5655 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618