Thursday night was my dinner at Laboratorio. My hubby and I were celebrating our tenth anniversary. Here is my report (now that I have recovered).
We had made reservations for 7:30 a month in advance. Two days before the big meal, we were called to confirm at 8:30. When we questioned why the dinner was pushed back, we were told that Roberto had a cooking class that afternoon and would be running late. I am surprised they didnt know about this conflict when we called and made our reservations, but really no harm done. Now if I had to work the next day I might not feel the same way, but I was prepared and had taken Friday off.
However, I was getting a bit grumbly when we got there with 10 minutes to spare and it in no way looked like we would be seated at 8:30. The class was just letting out, and Roberto took his time signing aprons for the class attendees. It was almost 9 oclock by the time we got seated for the start of a 12-course meal. I was ravenous and we would be there until late. But I keep telling myself, not too different from they way they do it in Italy right? Gotta get used to it.
All irritation melted away when Roberto greeted us with a hearty Buena Sera! We were served prosecco and some salty fried dough that were just perfect together. An ample bread basket was also placed on the table (the bane of my existence during such a big mealI want to eat it all but I know I will never make it to the end). We were seated at the Joe H. suggested TABLE NO. 7. It was a great table except for one thing: the door behind our table to some kind of office. It was used quite a bit during dinner and could have done with out the traffic. I might opt for the front and center table next time.
I know you are all chomping at the bit for me to get to the menu, but first a quick list of the wine we brought (we couldnt resist the very reasonable $15 corkage fee). We had an absolutely wonderful 2000 Kistler Durrell Vineyard Chardonnay and a delicious Saffredi 1998 Maremma Toscanna. The menu lent itself especially well with the Kistler, as you will see below.
1) Peekytoe Crab Salad with Orange Dressingso fresh, so light. It was just the crab and some mache or watercress with the citrus. Perfect and simple.
2) Duck Liver Custard Brulee topped with Rhubarb Marmaladeoh yeah, it was good as it sounds. Stealing Joe H.s terminology, I would call this a great dish.
3) Morel Mushroom Soup with Fonduta Timbale, Pancetta, Crispy Onions and Shallot Blossomsthis course was transcendent. The absolute best of the evening. Everything else had a lot to live up to after this one. I would call this a great great great great dish.
4) Tortelloni of Ricotta and Peas with Parmesan Saucethis course and the previous one began my downfall. Both of these called for plate cleanings with bread. No way I was leaving anything behind. Our plates were so clean the waiters started teasing us.
5) Eliche (a type of pasta that looked like DNA strands if you can imagine it) with Lamb Ragouta classic and very delicious. But I must say, I preferred Babbos Pappardelle Bolognese to this.
6) Risotto with Langostino and Fava Beansvery rich and full of fresh black pepper. At this point when they cleared our plates, they started teasing us again. Look, they are no cleaning their plates anymore!
7) Steamed Diver Scallop with Zolfini White Beans and Black Truffle Saucejust fantastic. The beans also had pancetta in them. So good another great dish.
8) Roasted Breast of Squab over Sicilian Couscous and AsparagusI was somewhat crestfallen when they brought this dish out. I am not a big fan of couscous. But this was really, really delicious. And the asparagus were perfect, perhaps sautéed with a bit of the squab fat?
9) Cheese from the Cheese Trolleyconsisted of Ricotta Infornata Di Bari (made with sheeps milk and similar in texture to a swiss or gruyere), Asagio Pressato (the best of the bunch in my opinion), Classic English Stilton (very very rich), and something called Bruss, which hopefully I will never have again. It was way way too funky in smell and texture. It was a fermented cheese. It coated your mouth and stayed there. Ugh.
10) Frappe Bicerina mixture of espresso, rum, and chocolate. This was nice once the I got the taste of the Bruss out of my mouth.
11) Roasted Apricot Tart with Apricot Sauce, Dried Apricots, and Apricot Ice CreamI just love sweet tart things such as this.
12) Bombolinisay it aint so more fried dough. We were at the bursting point, but you know we ate them all.
I would definitely go back and do it again, just to see what kind of menu he would come up with next time. This ranks right up there with my experience at Citronelle. However, Laboratorio is much more casual and fun. However, my experience at Citronelle was not at the chefs table so some would probably say I am comparing apples and oranges.
If you are in anyway obsessed with food, you owe yourself a trip to Laboratorio. It was so delicious and so much fun!