Restaurants & Bars

Incanto Report - Long

Liz | Jul 25, 2004 10:37 PM

My husband and I made our first visit to Incanto last night, and I can assure you that--barring any unfortunate Radio-Valencia-type incidents--it won't be our last.

At the beginning of the meal our server explained that we had our choice of complementary still or sparkling Hetch Hetchy water. I really appreciate this touch, as the water here is some of the best in the country. Then a bread plate arrived, bearing focaccia, breadsticks, and some especially delicious paper-thin crackers.

We began with an antipasto plate for two that held pickled vegetables (baby carrots, boiling onions, and an heirloom variety of delicious, slightly bitter, leggy-looking broccoli we often buy at the Alemany Farmer's Market), a few types of olives, a huge portion of house-made pate, mustard, several paper-thin slices of a house-made salumi thing with pistachios, and several imported from Italy without the pistachios. I'm sorry that I don't remember what it was called. I do remember clearly that the house-made one was the better by far.

The vegetables and olives were my favorites on the plate. In fact, the only criticism I can make of the entire dinner is that the pate was served much too cold for my taste. It seemed as though it had just come out of the walk in, and so was difficult to taste, even though after realizing this we saved it for last to try to give it a chance to warm up a bit. That said, my husband enjoyed all the meats very much.

We went on to split a plate of agnolotti with sheep's milk ricotta, erbette (a bitter green, our server informed us), and morels. This was heavenly. The scent when the dish arrived was out of this world. The morels on top of the dish were meaty. The agnolotti were made of almost impossibly thin pasta sheets encasing the ricotta, erbette, and a hint of lemon zest. It all lay atop a thin layer of broth that may have been from the morels and may have been veal stock, I can't be certain. All this was brightened up by a little bit of fresh mint sprinkled over the top. The lightness of the pasta and broth was held down by the meatiness of the morels in a wonderful chiaroscuro.

We accompanied the antipasto and pasta with the Cerasuolo recommended by fellow chowhound Robert Lauriston. Thank you, Robert. It is, indeed, a lovely wine.

Then we split the steak with heirloom eggplant and red onion. We asked for it medium rare and when I cut into it I was happy to see that it was cooked perfectly: it would be medium rare in a few minutes. The steak was delicious--tender, juicy, aggressively seasoned with salt and pepper, and accompanied by some of the best eggplant I have ever tasted. It was clearly a prime specimen eggplant chosen carefully and expertly prepared.

To accompany the steak our server suggested the Primitivo Torcicoda, 2001, Tormaresca, I believe. It is a wonderful, full-bodied wine that complemented the stronger flavors of the steak and eggplant ideally. I should note that Incanto has a policy of adding a label to the stem of every glass of wine they pour, so that you can find it later if you like. I duly saved the labels but my kids have since dispersed them, hence my lack of information. Sorry.

The house comped us each a delicious glass of Muscat after learning that this was a special occasion for us. Again, I can't find the label, but they did provide one.

In closing I have to say that the staff and owner were friendly, very well informed, accommodating, and did a magnificent job of making us feel welcome and cared for without ever being intrusive.


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