Wednesday, April 6, 2011

daMaurizio does it best

It is a rare occurrence to go to a restaurant where everything is amazing. Generally, something isn't as satisfying, as decadent, as delicious. Well, our recent dinner with our food loving friends (let's call them A and S) at daMaurizio broke all the rules. It was utterly amazing. Not just my dish but every single piece of food I tasted. It was perfection. And I don't just say that about anywhere. After ordering a bottle of wine and snacking on some bread and butter (although, at a fine Italian restaurant like this, I expected fresh baguette or focaccia with olive oil and balsamic), we settled in for what would turn out to be a truly unexpected culinary adventure.

To start, I ordered the calamari alla Gradese with tomato, garlic, chilies, lemon and parsley. No word of a lie, it was easily the best calamari I have ever had. The coasting was so crisp and light, not the heavy, greasy batter you find at other restaurants. Furthermore, the simple yet delicious tomato sauce was the perfect accompaniment (and a nice change from cocktail sauce I might add). This was calamari done right.

Brent ordered the Lumache alla Trebbiano, an appetizer of snails sauteed with white wine, garlic butter, and parsley served on a crostini and topped with fontina. I'll be honest. I would never have ordered snails and I even went as far as suggesting he order something else. I'm glad he didn't listen to me (like he ever does!) because this dish may have been the highlight of the meal. It was simply amazing. 

Our friend decided on the Carpaccio al Tartufo, beef tenderloin crusted in peppercorns, seared rare and served with truffle aioli, capers, crostini, and Parmigiano Reggiano. I only got a bite of this dish but what I did taste-some perfectly rare beef with a nice peppery kick-was delish. However, while our friend did enjoy the carpaccio, he did not find it as amazing as I had previously thought, more likely because he was regretting not ordering the calamari which he had fallen in love with during a previous visit! 

Our other friend ordered the Radicchio alla Friulana, a warm radicchio salad with garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, prosciutto, and Parmigiano. Served with flatbread (we actually can't quite remember exactly what this flatbread was made of but it was quite yummy!) and a crispy serving of prosciutto, this salad was wonderful and plentiful to boot. The oil and balsamic dressing, while simple, was the perfect balance to the bitterness of the radicchio and the flatbread and prosciutto added both texture and a depth of flavour. She loved it.

With the taste of our appies still fresh on our palates, it was not long before our chosen entrees arrived.

A and I both ordered the Ravioli alla Zucca, a roasted pumpkin and apple ravioli served with the usual sage brown butter in addition to a balsamic reduction. You may remember I not so long ago made this (and dined on it with this very friend!) so we were extremely excited to order it. Upon first bite, we knew we had chosen wisely. The pasta itself was perfect and the flavours I was craving- pumpkin and apple and nutmeg and butter- were arranged in a subtle yet very delicious balance. But upon further tastes, we realized the flavours seemed stronger, somehow becoming richer and richer with each bite.  How they performed this magic, I do not know but I was glad to be part of it. The balsamic reduction was also a wonderful addition but, then again, I'm already a big fan. Thankfully, we both had ordered the appetizer sized pasta as I doubt we could have eaten another bite.

S had ordered the Gnocchi al Gorgonzola, something I too had my eye on. The gnocchi was perfect, chewy yet velvety, the Gorgonzola sauce was beyond rich, and the toasted pecans added an unexpected yet delicious crunch. This gnocchi may very well be another best I've ever had. S went big and ordered the larger entree size but just barely finished it both because of size and sheer richness. 

Brent, unlike the rest of us, decided against pasta and instead opted for an entree. His dish, the Scaloppinie di Vitello all'Astice, included veal scaloppinie and lobster in a sauce of garlic, tomato, brandy, and cream accompanied by mashed potatoes and a few side vegetables. Again, (clearly a repeating theme here) this dish was amazing. The veal, of which there were three substantial pieces, was tender, the lobster, perfectly rich and buttery, and oh, that sauce. What can I even say? Brandy, tomato, cream, garlic....insert drooling sounds here! I don't know how into veal I am but put this dish in front of me again and not one drop would be left behind. I would literally lick the plate. (And once again Brent, who was way more adventurous when it came to the menu, picked another winner.)

While finishing our wine, we were almost speechless. We discussed how the quiet ambiance and understated decor (think old world Italian) helped to show off the food; how the food was the experience. And the service, you guessed it, was perfect. I am counting the days til we return in the fall so I can try more things on the menu. Even now, weeks after dining there, I am still in awe. Wow.

Check out the menu but good luck deciding!

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