Il Fornaio Tasting Menu
If Fornaio (Pasadena), a restaurant I don't usually find all that interesting, advertised a 5 course Tuscan Tasting menu for $29 which I couldn't resist. It turned out that 5/8 was the first time they had tried this - it showed in that every course was a full course, not the promised reduced portions. A filone bread salad was plainly dressed with reasonably good olive oil and red wine vinegar and, although the filone is the trademark of the restaurant, not very exciting. The one spectacular dish was chestnut pappardelle with exquisitely intense porcini; Superfluous sausage only subtracted a little. A huge portion of properly cooked but metallic tasting risotto w/parmesan was eminently forgettable. Sea bass with a thin bread crumb coating was fresh enough but the probably authentic Tuscan caper olive and tomato sauce was more suited to a much less delicate fish. Dessert (yes, another full serving) was good vanilla ice cream in a profiterole with chocolate.
All in all, I think this restaurant is coming up in the world (a little); I would, however, eschew the full menu in favor of the chestnut pappardelle.