Dinner at Vincenti
Thank You for all of your advice. It really helped. I did try the Soft Scrambled Eggs with Guanciale and Asparagus. It was very nice. I had the Bottarga with Tomatoes, Red Onions and 10 Year Old Basalmic. Also very nice. We tried the Black Sea Bass on the Rotisserie. It had a very subtle sauce that let the flavor of the fish come through. Dessert was Apple Tarte with Vanilla Gelato. Tough crust, wonderful flavors. I selected a 1996 Chianti from Tuscany (they were oout of it) I selected a 1997 Napa Merlot. It was excellent for such a young wine. Very drinkable now. It was a very nice meal that cost $65.00 per person with tax and tip. While it was a nice meal, I don't think that anything was amazing or a revelation. At Valentino, the Gnocci are a revelation. At Patina, even the risotto is a revelation. This experience was infinitely better than my experience at Rex. Portion size has been greatly increased too. I think if I go back I will do it to try his white truffles. The table next to us had their eggs and their salad covered with truffles and they were much more fragrant than any truffles that I have smelled in L.A. Without your advice, I am sure that I would have felt totally ripped off. Your advice was very instrumental in my enjoyment of the evening. Our waiter was very enthusiastic and helpful through-out the evening. We were not rushed in any way. Gino was in the kitchen and he did watch over our fish. The room is beautiful. Have you ever tried the Pappardelle with Duch Ragu? I guess I am looking for something with bold flavors. Not that cover up the flavors of the ingredients but that make the dish sing (like the Seafood Rissotto with Squid Ink at Drago). I guess I can see why the reviews are mixed for this restaurant. Even Remi has a salad of improbable ingredients the when eated together create a symphony in your mouth. I think it was arugual, greek olives, parmeggiano, and walnuts (candied?). I guess with all of the great restaurants and creative chefs that we have here, it is tough to leave a lasting impression.
Thank You Tom and Johnathan.
I am one of the few dissenters on Vincenti having been there three times. I have previously stated my opinion on this matter before, and have stood by silently watching your thread with Tom and Jonathan. Since you were going to go, I didn't want to be the one to rain on the parade. Needless to say I am delighted that your experience was as wonderful as it was supposed to be. My problems have been with inconsistency, which as Tom pointed out could have been because of Gino's travels. Though that may explain it, I never found it to be a good excuse. I have found the Rotisserie fish dry, the pasta overcooked and under sauced at times, and the desserts thoroughly uninteresting. Not to mention that the prices, while not Rex-ish, did not complement the meal. I have wanted to like it, having returned twice after a disappointing virgin voyage, but it still hasn't worked. Now however with the dawning of the Truffle Season (intentionally capitalized), with Tom's rave, and with the your new rave, I will give it one more try with the thinking that Gino probably knows his way around a truffle. As an observer to the leadup to your visit, I am glad that it went so well. I will follow with my results after I go, probably next week. In the meantime and for the record, I find their under appreciated stepsister, Alto Palato, to be even better from my experience. Aside from the Pizza, which I find to be the best of it's thin crusted, brick oven genre in LA, their Amatriciana is exceptional. Glad to hear it went so well.
re: Michael S
Ah, yes, white truffle season. Here's a tip. Call Vincenti and ask them (the owner, Maureen Vincenti, if she's available) to ask Gino when he receives his delivery of white truffles from Alba. Then schedule your meal at Vincenti that evening or the next. Have the truffles on scrambled eggs or with tagliatelli. Heaven!
Bob, I'm glad you enjoyed your meal, even if nothing was "amazing or a revelation." I certainly agree that the other places you mention, Valentino, Patina, Drago, and Remi, can produce wonderful food. No argument there.
Michael, I also like Alto Palato, especially on Wednesday nights when they have the regional dinner specials and 40% off on wine prices. Like Vincenti, Alto Palato also cures its own guanciale, which is why its Bucatini All' Amatriciana is so good. Although its not always on the menu, have you tried the Amatriciana at Vincenti? I find it to be a richer and even more flavorsome version than Alto Palato's.
re: Tom Armitage
I'm informed that deliveries of white truffles from Italy have been inconsistently intermittent this year. Although Vincenti tries to get deliveries a couple times a week, this has not always happened, and the dates on which they receive the truffle shipments have been somewhat unpredictably off schedule. So, my advice is to call first, whether at Vincenti or elsewhere, check to see if the restaurant has white truffles and, if so, when they were received.