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We haven't been there in years, preferring Brigantessa. But now that Brigantessa has a new chef, we decided to try Le Virtu again last night, getting a last minute reservation since we were ready for dinner early and close enough to get a 6:15pm.
The longtime waiter who I remembered, was extremely knowledgeable about the food and wine. We didn't mind, but our only complaint was once he brought the wine and after the initial pour, we had to refill our glasses ourselves.
We shared two appetizers and two pastas. The highpoint of the meal was the "meatballs" made out of a bread and cheese batter in a really nice chunky spicy marinara. There were four filling meatballs which we regretfully couldn't finish because we needed to gauge ourselves for the pasta to come. Our other appetizer was an Italian version of tempura vegetables that was called vegetable frito misto. The batter was very light, not soggy, but not terribly crisp. I liked it but maybe wouldn't order it again.
Both pastas were delicious but the better of the two was a homemade spaghetti with lamb ragu. The other was a gnochetti (tiny gnochi) with a mushroom ragu. It was a little light on the mushrooms and a bit heavier on the cream or broth or butter that made up the sauce, making it less earthy than I was expecting, but still delicious. The sauteed brocoli rabe with plenty of calabrian peppers was perfect, not bitter and al dente.
For dessert we had a great panacotta that I really liked because it was creamier and less gelatinous than it is prepared elsewhere. Espresso was perfect.
The waiter recommended a Montepulciano d'Abruzzi to pair with our order. It had enough earthiness for the more robust dishes but not so much that it overpowered the fried vegetables or the gnochetti dish.
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