We went to the special Risotto Dinner at Oliveto last night. It was wonderful. Unlike Oliveto's other special dinners, this was a prix fixe event with two seatings, scheduled so that Chef Canales could deliver freshly made risotto right to the table at the opportune time. The night started with a salumi plate--a no-fail at Oliveto (the soppressata was the favorite, although I was surpised how much I enjoyed the mortadella). The second course was a salad of asparagus, roasted beets and capers - very fresh and tasty (the capers added a nice pungent note). The risotto course was next. It was easily the best risotto I ever had--better than italy, better than my own. It was made with prosecco, but tasted of the best Parmigiano Reggiano. It was in the loose style, but still very toothsome. It was truly the highlight and I ate it with a spoon so to not miss a single bite. The secondo was a braised breast of hen in a rich tomato sauce topped with fresh artichokes and green garlic. I couldn't finish it--it was so rich, deep and flavorful--but the artichoke topping was wonderfully nutty and spring-like. The dessert was a gelatin made with prosecco and pixie tangerine--a perfect refreshing ending.
We had the 2002 Dolcetto d'Alba, from Conterno, Piedmont, which paired well with all the dishes of the meal. I had a glass of a slightly oaked chardonnay with the risotto (can't remember which), which went perfectly (our server was kind enough to provide a taste to TheDive-ster as well). I also had a nice moscato with the dessert.
We have gotten into the habit of going to all the special dinners at Oliveto and the Risotto dinner did not disappoint. I believe the special dinners really allow the kitchen to shine and can avoid the rare disappointment some may have the pricier upstairs experience (I love the downstairs with a passion and find it to one of the best deals around for pure regional italian food). I encourage everyone to check out the special dinners (the tomato, whole hog, truffle and ocean ones are things of beauty). And be on the lookout in case they do the Risotto Dinners again -- you will not be disappointed.