I've been wanting to go to an Angeli Caffe Thursday family-style dinner for a while. Although I had been to Angeli Caffe previously last fall and thought it was ho-hum, I wanted to give this a try. I like the idea of a weekly themed meal - seems like an excellent idea to break out of the normal menu and stretch. And I really respect Evan Kleiman's cooking philosophy and am a fairly dedicated listener to her show on kcrw.
So, when I saw on the restaurant's website that the theme was heirloom tomatoes for this past thursday, well - what could be better!?!?!
For the family dinners, they pull all the tables into long rows. We were a group of six and sat between a party of two and a party of five (there was one spare seat at the table). The place was packed, I don't know if this is common or whether enthusiasm was really high for the tomatoes! The restaurant was very noisy and cheerful.
The waitstaff bring out big dishes of food, for this meal usually one or two per table. Water was constantly refilled and new silverware brought as needed and sometimes plates changed. There was a wine list floating around, we got a couple bottles throughout the meal. It was up to us to pour after the initial taste. Before we started receiving the courses, they brought out some of their wonderful warm bread - olive oil was on the table.
The courses were as follows:
1) Bruschetta with tomatoes and baby arugula (I think) - pretty tasty start.
2) Scamorza with heirloom tomatoes - this was a melted cheese dish. Delicious, but logistical problems ensued with two dishes for the table, but the party of five at the end hoarding theirs, leaving one dish for the 8 of us at the other end. We didn't let this happen again! As with any family - good communication makes all the difference.
3) Tian of onions, peppers and tomatoes - nice.
4) Tomato gnocchi with a pineapple tomato sauce - that's "pineapple tomato" a specific variety not the pineapple fruit. This was the best thing all night. It was good they served this in individual plates or war might have broken out fighting over them. These were such beautifully light, wonderful gnocchi. I have never tasted better (which isn't saying much since I don't eat Italian food very often - but others agreed).
5) Shrimp with tomatoes, olives and anchovies served along with heirloom tomato salad with avocado and red onion + garlic toasts. The salad was very nice. I really liked the sauce that the shrimp were in - nice dark flavors after all the sweet bright tomato. But the shrimp themselves were unremarkable and kind of rubbery. I kept dreaming of the sauce with a nice fish like sea bass or red snapper - that would have been heaven.
6) Nectarine crisp with whipped cream. Hey! Where's the tomatoes? Well, in any case it probably was time for a change and this was fantastic. Very crunchy, nutty topping and delicious fruit - one of my favorite desserts and perfectly done.
All that for $25.00!! Not bad, eh? Actually after tax, tip (which was included for our party of 6), and two bottles of wine it was about $45.00. But, still a steal and I'm so happy we went!
LA, CA 90046