Last night I finally got to check out the infamous Genoa on Belmont.
The menu through Nov 14th is as follows:
Antipasto di pere e prosciutto: Wedges of caramelized Bose pear draped with a thin slice of prosciutto di Parma ham accompanied by a thin walnut bread toast spread with creamy Gorgonzola Dolce, sprinkled with pine nuts and quickly broiled until the cheese begins to bubble.
Soup Course: Zuppa di cavolo: A savory early winter soup of cabbage, sweet onions and rosemary in a rich duck broth flavored with Madeira and finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano and garnished with buttery croutons.
Pasta Course: Il rotolo di spinaci: A think sheet of our fresh egg pasta rolled around a filling of spinach, homemade ricotta, Parmesan and sautéed pancetta. The roll is poached and slices are served in a tomato sauce enriched with onions and butter.
Fish Course: Branzino in aceto: A small fillet of red snapper marinated in a flavorful mixture of mustard, anchovies, garlic, oregano and lemon juice then dipped in a light batter and sautéed in olive oil until crisp and golden.
Main Course choice of one of the following:
Cappe sante al livornese: Large tender East Coast sea scallops sautéed with shallots, then served with a reduction of shellfish stock, dry vermouth, white wine, lemon juice and an enrichment of shellfish butter. Served with a puree of celery root, turnips and potatoes.
Anitra con porto: A plump leg of Muscovy duck slowly braised in red wine with deep purple prunes, duck stock and port. Accompanied by creamy yellow polenta and sautéed brussel sprouts.
Bisteca con funghi: A Painted Hills ribeye steak grilled then served with sautéed wild mushrooms, parsley, garlic and a dollop of porcini butter. A potato and horseradish gratin accompanies this dish.
Desert Course one of the following (I dont have these listed .so I do not remember them as well)
Mango & Coconut sherbet. Lemon tart with almonds. Some type of baked Meringue cake thing. Vanilla Ice cream with floral water & chocolate chip bits, can be topped with hot chocolate/fudge. Sicilian Wedding cake, a pound cake with Grand Marnier, orange bits and chocolate bits. And a few others that slip my memory.
My partner and I were both impressed by the first three courses.
The Anitpasto was simple yet very tasty. The pear was cut into 3 sections, and it was either a small pair or only about ½ a large pair, and the prosciutto was not actually draped on the pear but in a small rosette/pile next to it. The pears were beautifully caramelized and their sweetness paired wonderfully with the slightly saltiness of the prosciutto. I personally love Gorgonzola so I enjoyed the bread toast. The biggest draw back was that it was only one small to medium toast I would have liked two.
The Soup was wonderful- probably my favorite dish, similar to a French onion soup. It was a light brown with texture added by the cabbage and onions with a few croutons for finish. It was simple yet comforting. I thought this could have easily been too salty but fortunately it wasnt.
The fish was served very simply accompanied only by a wedge of lemon. The server even made a comment that though it looked unattractive (rather like a fillet o fish from the freezer) that not to discount it. The fish was tender but overall to salty in my opinion.
For the entrée I had the Muscovy duck while my partner had the Paitned Hills ribeye.
My leg of duck was excellent. The outside was crispy while the meat was tender and flavorful. The accompaniment was a creamy polenta that, unfortunately, was very bland. Even with the sauce from the duck it did not help. The vegetables were brussel sprouts that had been sautéed with butter, garlic and orange zest. They were OK. I wasnt a fan of the orange zest and would have preferred simple butter and garlic.
As for the ribeye. It was about 10oz. and cooked medium rare/ medium. They seared in the pan then finished in the oven. The meat was very tender but the piece of meat was very fatty. The mushrooms and porcini butter were excellent. Sadly, once again, the accompaniment the potato gratin- was not that savory. It was bland and tasted undercooked.
For dessert we had the Sicilian Wedding Cake and the Ice Cream. The wedding cake was heavy (pound cake) with strong orange and chocolate flavors. The ice cream was floral tasting with bits of chocolate. Both were very good.
Genoa finishes your meal with a selection of fruits. Grapes, pears, pineapple and others.
Cost is $70 per person for the 7 course meal.
I was concerned with the first few dishes that we would not be full at the end of the meal but it worked out just right.
For drinks we had a glass of 01 Jermann Pino Grigio to accompany the first 3 courses. A wonderful white. Light, clean, slightly sweet. I really enjoyed this white- which normally it is not my favorite. ($10 a glass.)
As our main wine we choose a 90 Barbaresco. It could have been the Barbaresco, Montestefano Riserva, Produttori del Barbaresco, 1990 as listed on their website though we paid $125 for the bottle not $100 (so either they raised the prices recently or we had something similar but not that exact wine.) The red was excellent. Very mellow. A hint of leather on the nose. Some currant and truffles. I like creamy mellow reds- and this fit the bill.
The atmosphere was nice, but not exceptionally nice. It was not as intimate as I had hoped. There are 10 tables in one room and you can hear every conversation. (Since the restaurant is so small reservations are required.) The décor is simple and would be perfectly fine if it were not for one thing- the chairs. They were comfortable but they are these sudo-retro wood and wicker things reminiscent of my mothers dining set in the 70s. If considering redesigning the chairs have to be the first thing to go.
I did step into the waiting room/lounge in the back for a look. That was a bit nicer but to bright. It was not intimate or cozy. I can only hope that the lights were up because no one was in it .
The nice thing about the atmosphere is that is does have a classic feel that most other Portland restaurants are missing these days. Like an older gentleman- no need to be flashy- has a confident, comfortable style they can call their own.
And finally service. Our waiter was very good. He was professional, very knowledgeable about the wine list and described each course to us right before he brought it out. He was very personable and although I only saw 2 waiters for all tables, all courses, they never seemed to be rushing around. They blended with the environment.
(I hope people get the jist of that.)
Overall my partner and I felt that the first 3 courses were the best examples of what Genoa could do. I do feel though that I can go to another restaurant and have (maybe not 7 courses but a few) with slightly better food, and a slightly better atmosphere for a bit less. But depending on the menu I would defiantly not rule out never returning. Since it is no smoking and small it would be a great dinner to take parents (if you can afford it) or to have a one-on-one meal with someone. Enjoyed myself and glad I went.
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