We’d never been to Va Pensiero, and we were charmed by this boutique hotel and its reincarnated restaurant, Pensiero. We got an invite from comrade Lake, and were delighted to visit this classic – though disappointed to find that my trusty Canon is apparently busted (I’m going to have to defer to other, better photographers for image support).
We had a lot to eat but I’ll just focus on the plates I remember the morning after.
Stuffed cavalo nero was a beautiful way to start: the slightly bitter and harsh leaf and the slightly sweet and soft, fruit-flecked cheese did what an appetizer was supposed to do: it looked great and stimulated all parts of the palate and imagination, got us ready and interested to eat more.
From the field greens salad, I’m remembering the fresh fig, which had been smoked somehow and was a fine little side with the salad, which showed excellent restraint in the dressing. No fan of salad, I found myself wanting to eat more.
I’ve never thought much of risotto – I appreciated it in concept, and didn’t didn’t like it, but never really liked it much. The buttery, almost butterscotch-tasting version at Pensiero, offset with a flavorful hunk of stringy tail, was magnificent. I could have eaten two plates. I should have eaten two plates.
Mint Creek lamb chops were perfect, though I would have liked to have had the mint reduction a bit more pronounced (personal preference; not actually recommending that the chef amp up the mint flavor).
Tiramisu is one of those dishes The Wife and I rarely order because, you know, we’ve been hurt before. The somewhat grainy, mousse-like version at Pensiero is almost unrecognizable compared to other tiramisu, not too sweet, with a lot of textural interest, good.
As I mentioned to one of the managers as I was leaving, I hardly ever am able to go to the same restaurant more than once: so little time, so relatively little abdominal real estate, and one visit is usually all that’s required to get a reasonable, if still limited, sense of the place. I would like to go to Pensiero again, just to see whatever cool stuff is dreamt up. It's fair to say that this place is exciting: it makes me want to visit again and see what else Alan is working on. And, yes, I'm undoubtedly biased in favor of my friend, but my experience is that bias does not make food taste better.
“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni