Okay, so I have a lot more than two words to say about Laboratorio del Galileo. It was one of the best meals of my life. (And, take my word for it, that says a lot, given that I've done some pretty extensive travelling, including CIA-Greystone and French Laundry in Napa to name-drop some domestics)
Table 1, or any table, would be JUST FINE. Too small a room to have a "bad" table.
Overarching comments: The staff was superb, from our Roman sommelier who was extremely knowledgeable (I apologize profusely for giving you my '96 Rubicon from Coppola with a cork that disintigrated!) and was willing to try our wine again at my insistence (it was REALLY tight upon opening, but an hour later was deemed wonderful by both the sommelier and Roberto) and gave us freebie tastes of a Barbaresco and the dessert wine, a Muscado, to our gracious server (who OUTED me as being a "writer" for Chowhound--never did find out how), to the busperson who was never "in the way." I was the only one of 21 in the room who went up to talk to Chef Donna; he was happy to chat with me, and gave me a few "tastes" of items he was arranging for a patron in the regular restaurant. (Who knew I'd like rabbit liver??) I can't say enough about what a pleasant atmosphere is found at Laboratorio.
The only "negative" was that there wasn't enough "show." I was hoping that Chef Donna would speak to the group, or invite us up to watch something being prepared. There was none of this. Moreover, the mirror above was positioned so that we could see the folks plating dishes, not cooking. I want to see pots and pans, not a dish that will be in front of me in mere moments! Perhaps the mirror could be repositioned to focus on the cooking, not the plating.
On to the FOOD!!!: In a word-unreal. Started with fried dough sprinkled with fleur de sel, with a complementary glass of Prosecco.
The first appetizer was two perfectly fried (tempura style) oysters with a garlic saffron sauce served in an oyster shell. Beautiful presentation.I'm a HUGE oyster fan, and could have eaten two dozen of these babies easily.
Next came a miso soup-style spoon filled with scrambled egg with black truffle. Not just your Sunday brunch eggs, that's for damn sure. Creamy, light, with that truffle aroma that's unmistakeable.
Next was Chef Donna's new "signature" appetizer, "Duck liver custard with fresh figs." Doesn't do it justice. A small ramekin of foie gras whipped and made into a creme brulee-like custard, complete with brown sugar blow-torched on top! Sweet, creamy, salty, liver-y--it was amazing.
The soup course was incredibly interesting. Watermelon Gaspacho with Tomato Foam and Brunoise of Vegetables. Tomato foam is simply tomato juice whipped and mixed with gelatin, molded into small mounds. The vegetables were chives, red and green onion, tomato, cucumber, etc in the smallest dice you've ever seen. The Watermelon soup was poured over the tomato foam and vegis, and had a kick that knocked you on your butt. Tobasco and Vodka were the "secret" ingredients (maybe a touch too much tobasco, if Chef Donna reads this--I like HOT, but this was a little overpowering). Really neat concept, and execution was excellent.
Next came our favorites, the ethereal pastas only Chef Donna seems to do perfectly. First was a tortelloni of zucchine and ricotta in a zucchini cream sauce. The thinest, lightest pasta (fit for ANGELS) covered an amazingly rich ricotta and lay ever so gently in a brighter than real green zucchini puree mixed with god-only-knows how much butter and cream. My husband MOANED (as did I).
Next was a Pappardelle with Chanterelle Ragu and Tomato. Another ethereal pasta.
On to the risotto course, which was risotto with lobster. A 3 ounce portion of perfectly al dente risotto with 3 lovely, perfectly cooked chunks of knuckle meat. Mmmmmmmmm.
Fish course was a filet of turbot with white baby asparagus, black truffle (julianned) and potato puree in a Chardonnay cream sauce, (with a hint of vanilla?) Very light, very well done.
The meat course was a loin of rabbit (I had no idea that rabbit loin was white meat, like the most tender chicken you've ever had) sauteed in butter, served with peperonata (roasted slivers of red pepper) and hen of the wood mushroom (WOW--if you've never tried hen of the wood mushroom, do, cause it's heady, and woodsy, and explodes with flavor) in a Gressini Sauce (which was perfect with the rabbit, but seemed like the thyme-based chicken gravy that I make for Sunday dinner)
The cheese trolley was nothing to write home about, although I LOVE cheese, we were winding down....I happen to have a thing for French cheeses over Italian cheeses, but it's no fault of Laboratorio's.
Orange granita was served as a palate cleanser. Perfect, bright flavor.
Baba au Ruhm with Peach Carpaccio was the first (main) dessert. Rum-soaked cake with whipped cream and the thinnest-sliced nectarines I've ever seen. Presentation was amazing.
With the check, came Bombolini--cinnamon sugar sprinkled doughnut holes. Stuffed as we were, I still managed to eat 3 of these.
All in all, just amazing. Once a date is set, I'll be able to make a decision as to whether I can attend the Chowhound outing in October. I'd go back in a heartbeat if I had the chance. (I've got a trial starting October 21 in which I'm the lead attorney)
Thanks for all your help and advice. Especially Joe H., who raved about this place so much that I HAD to try it, and I'm SO glad I did.
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