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Tre Porcellini - Fantastic Addition to Hillcrest!

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Tre Porcellini - Fantastic Addition to Hillcrest!

Diva Barbarella | Dec 24, 2010 03:30 PM

I'd noticed a new restaurant had been opened where Bite used to be on University Avenue, but (perhaps because of my last few not-so-great experiences at Bite), I was hesitant to give it a try. I'm so happy I did.

It's owned by three Italians (hence "Three Piggies"), one of whom is Chef Roberto Gerbino, who specializes in Sicilian fare, and used to chef at Il Fornaio. So many Italian restaurants have been opening lately, it's tough to stand out above the rest. For example, I was not wowed, and have not returned to, Buonissimo 2, which is just a few blocks further down on the same street. But I will definitely be going back to Tre Porcellini, because after last night's nibbles, I feel I must try everything this chef has to offer.

It was just me and David. Our water, Piero (Sicilian), obliged when I requested a few tastes of red wine. He asked what I was in the mood for, I pointed out a few, and he said he'd bring another one I might like. Turned out, Piero's recommendation was the best of the three -- meritage from the Central Coast. The bread basket featured three kinds of bread from Bread & Cie, and was accompanied by a small dish containing a mixture of roasted tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and basil that was so flavorful and well balanced, David sopped up every last bit with his bread. We began with the polenta board, Polenta al Cinghiale, which contained wild boar ragu (with juniper berries, carrots, mushrooms, and shaved Parmigiano). The polenta was not creamy as it is in other places, but it was not gummy, either. It was light and fluffy, which we could only imagine was achieved by not using cheese or cream. But all very delicious, we cleaned the board.

We both preferred my entree to David's. I got one of the house specialties, the Ravioli con l'Osso -- homemade ravioli (ALL pasta is made in house, and servers present diners with a plate of all the types of pasta for them to select from in advance). The ravioli was filled, generously, with braised veal and ossobuco, and was drenched in a wine reduction and mushroom sauce. Like, stupid yum. At the end of my plate was a slice of bone with marrow intact, and a little fork to eat the marrow with. It was recommended I eat the marrow with the sauce (supposed to complement very well), but I have texture issues with marrow, so I left that bit to David.

David got the Trio Porcellini, pork three ways -- slowly roasted pork shoulder, glazed pork belly, and pork chop milanese, served with roasted potatoes. David loved the belly, he said it was well executed -- crisped on the outside, ideal. The fried pork chop was very thin, a quarter-of-an-inch thick, perhaps too thin, because by the time the outside browned (very nicely browned and perfectly crisp), the inside was overdone, left a little tough and less juicy than it could have been if it had been thicker. The shoulder was not to his taste. David said, "It seems bland for what should arguably be one of the most flavorful cuts." He agreed that my ravioli was ridonculous.

For dessert, we shared what was essentially crushed amaretto cookies soaked in amaretto, layered with chocolate shavings and a light marscapone of the type that would be used in tiramisu. We thought we'd be too full for even a bite, but it was so light and flavorful, we ended up scraping the glass with our spoons.

Everyone there, from the busser who refilled our glasses, to Piero -- a friendly, knowledgeable server, to two of the owners (Chef Roberto came out to greet his diners and ask how everything was), was warm, smiling, and clearly aiming to please. The best part about this restaurant? We can walk there.

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