My wife and I went to Pazzo tonight for 25 for $25 (menu follows post). She ended up getting the 25 for $25 while I ordered off the normal menu. They didn't give you choices except on the entree and there were a couple things on the menu that sounded pretty good. I have to say, though, that the 25 for $25 is an excellent deal at Pazzo. They didn't seem to skimp on the portions at all on the entree.
My wife got the 25 for $25 with the salmon. The first two courses sounded much more boring than they were. The fresh mozzarella was quite tasty and its creamy blandness worked well against the bold prosciutto and the sauce. I don't know Italian that well and am not as versed in authentic Italian food as I would like to be, at least by names, but the sauce was excellent. My wife and I found ourselves wiping it up with the tasty bread they provide (very good foccacia). The second course was a housemade pasta, a round noodle probably about 4 times the size of a spaghetti. Very good pasta, but I'm not a pasta lover. The sauce, however, was great. The pancetta was key and the tanginess of the sauce with the wine and probably some balsamic to finish it was truly great. I'm not a fan normally of red sauces or pasta dishes, but this one was very good. They had a thin slice of cheese melted on top and that just "topped it off" perfectly. My wife was stuffed by now, but out came the salmon. It looked gorgeous. They presented it skin side up. It had deep dark grill marks and the skin had taken on the look of gold leaf or something. Very cool. My wife doesn't like skin, so she removed it and flipped over the filet. The other side was presentation quality as well, seasoned with nice grill marks. the fish was cooked perfectly medium with just a slight bit of semi-raw in the very middle. The squash and mushroom mixture it was served with was excellent. Again, though, what truly made this dish special was the sauce. It was just a light coating on the vegetables and below the fish, but went perfectly. I think they reduced the wine with a sugar such as brown sugar or honey, and maybe even finished it with an old balsamic reduction. I don't know. But it had a nice caramelliness to it. I kept taking swipes of it with my finger when my wife was done trying to identify the flavors. Definitely a burnt sugar of some sort, but probably with a fresh sugar as well. Lots of layers of flavor and perfectly suited to the dish. My wife was disappointed that the dessert actually didn't come with the strawberry-rhubarb-balsamic combo on the menu, but instead rhaspberries and blueberries, neither of which are season except very, very far away, I think. A little disappointing, but she still ate it all.
I ordered three courses off the menu. I started with a lentil and sausage soup. It was quite tasty, though probably too peppery for some. That was just what I was looking for. I love that pepper, lentil, sausage combo and it had a quite flavorful broth. Huge portion, too. ($6) For my entree, I ordered the bacon wrapped pork tenderloin with lentil-morel sauce. Quite tasty The pork was maybe a bit salty, but good. The sauce could have highlighted the morels a little more, but it was quite good, too. I think the tenderloin used maple smoked bacon or something because it had a nice sweet flavor on the outside. ($23) For dessert, I had the apple-ginger cobbler with spiced ice cream. It came with two large biscotti, as well, and was made to order. It was a bit sweet for me, but that was expected. I was really interested in the ice cream and I do love ginger desserts. The ice cream was like a ginger, pumpkin pie spice ice cream and very good. It all went together well and the ginger and the ice cream kept the apples from being overly sweet. It was huge, too. ($7)
Overall, it was very good. Also, note that the shortrib entree on the 25 for $25 is also on the normal menu for $26. I asked the waiter and he said there's no difference between the two. What a deal! I wanted to try more stuff otherwise I would have gotten that.
Also, they had a "La Famiglia" Sunday Meal menu. I guess every sunday they now offer a multi-course menu without any choices for $25 for adults and $12 for kids. (Actually you get choice of dessert.) Looks like a great deal. They also offer a bottle of wine normally sold at $60+ for $28 (the Robert Mondavi La Famiglia Wines). The whole table must order this, however, and it's served family style. I saw several tables that had ordered it and it looked really good. If I could have ordered it myself, I probably would have. The entree was:
Aroosti Misti: Combination of braised Piedmontese beef shortrib and roasted chicken with grilled asparagus and roasted potato.
Anyway, highly recommend Pazzo's 25 for $25. I'm going to try to get to Caprial's, Lucy's Table, and Paley's ASAP for 25 for $25. Have to see how the food budget holds up. So far, I'm going to be sad when June comes around and the deal goes away.
25 for $25 menu
Antipasti: Misti. Fresh mozzarella, prociutto di Parma and Abruzzi style caponata with extra virgin olive oil.
Primi: Bucatini Al'Amatriciana. Bucatini pasta with the traditional Roman sauce of tomato, red wine, and pancetta.
Secondi: Choice of...
Salmone. Fresh wild king salmon with roasted butternut squash, mixed mushrooms, sage and marsala wine reduction.
Crostata di Piemontese. Beraised, boneless Piemontese shrotrib with cannelini beans, rapini, and pancetta.
Dolce: Panna Cotta. "Cooked cream" with strawberry-rhubarb compote and 25 year balsamic reduction.