My mom was in town, so she, my brother, his girlfriend, and I all went out to a nice dinner. Gabriel chose Pesce, an Italian seafood bar with Italian style tapas called cicchetti. The place was small and intimate, so intimate that we were so close to the table next to us that we couldn’t help to share food and wine suggestions, as well as over-analyze the pair’s relationship with the conclusion that he was a big pimpin’ Italian flaunting his knowledge of cuisine in order to end the meal with some nookie. Not to be presumptuous, but I’m just sayin’, that’s how close we were. Deciding on our cichetti proved to be an overwhelming task. Just about everything on the menu looked divine. To lubricate our decision-making skills, we ordered some oyster shots. How can you pass up the opportunity to taste an oyster in a bath of cucumber, cocktail sauce, horseradish and chipotle-infused vodka? I am not strong enough to say no to that. Since my only previous experience with oyster shooters was at a party with oysters-on-the-half floated with some tequila and lime, I was a bit intimidated on how to shoot this thing without making a complete ass of myself. Plus, I want to shoot the vodka, but actually chew and taste the oyster. The best way for me was to push the oyster aside in the shot glass with the tiny fork, shoot the liquid, then fill my mouth with a fork full of oyster and saucy goodness. The harshness of the vodka was cut by the cocktail sauce and horseradish and burned sweetly as it went down with the combination of an alcohol and spicy burn. Then, using the oyster as a chaser, any reminisce of the vodka is extinguished immediately.
We finally decided on our order which was as follows: a couple more oysters on the half shell, the crab tower, seared scallops with truffle sauce, butternut squash risotto, capellinni with shrimp and arugula, and penne arrabiata. The crab tower for me was tasty, but a little disappointing. When at an Italian place and someone says tower, I’m thinking of that leaning thing in Pisa, whereas this was more like a Fiat. The scallops were seared to perfection and doused with a creamy chanterelle sauce with truffle essence that I wanted to lick the plate clean. I think the waiter thought I was crazy when he tried to take the plate away with a droplet of sauce remaining, and I flung myself across the table to stop him so that my bread would soak up every last bit. My fellow diners would disagree with me, I was unimpressed by the risotto. I found it to be undercooked slightly, which for me took away from the sweet flavor of the squash. The capellinni was good, but tasted like something I could easily have made at home. Funny, that the other highlight for me was the arrabiata. Basic penne with a spicy tomato sauce, basil and garlic. So simple, but so incredibly tasty. Overall, the meal was very special, great ambiance, great food, great company, and cichetti are such a fun way to eat. They allow you to share with your mates, try everything, and savor every tiny bite.