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Taranta review

tdaaa | May 22, 2007 10:00 AM

There have been a number of brief raves of taranta on the board recently, but I thought I would contribute my two cents.

In Brief: One of the best meals I have had in years. Very loud space with tiny tables, though.

Went Friday night, party of four. Started with lobster/crab ravioli, pappardelle with mushrooms, and mussels. I don't generally like lobster ravioli, and these were no exception, but my DCs were raving about them. I was too busy protecting the mussels - perfectly cooked in a broth with carmelized shallots, pancetta chunks, and a marsala reduction. The broth was a rich, buttery, meaty flavor with great marsala flavor that emphasized the texture and flavor of the mussels without detracting from them. I sopped up large quantities of the broth with the remaining bread, and was almost ready to pick up the empty bowl and drink the remainder.

After the waitress tore the mussel bowl away from me, my lamb came. Perfectly rare, served with a (quite) spicy salsa, braised fennel and perfectly roasted new potatoes. Now, I must say that I always order either lamb or duck when dining out, as well as eating a fair amount of home cooked lamb. This was simply the best lamb I have ever had (including a very good icelandic lamb that I ordered in iceland). The lamb was tender and flavorful and the gaminess contrasted nicely with the chili heat and a touch of sweetness from a reduction sauce. Even the dry, firm, bite-sized roasted potatoes provided welcome textural contrast rather than being a starchy afterthought. I ordered a side of broccoli rabe (because I always order broccoli rabe if it is available) that was very good, but was proof that a professional chef does a better job of designing complementary flavors than an amateur diner - the bitterness detracted from the other flavors rather than contributing, as the braised fennel did.

With good company, a few glasses of a nice Montepulciano, gradual emptying and quieting of the dining room, and it added up to a perfect evening (despite the soaking rain).

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