I was shocked at how quiet Erbaluce was last night. The level of cooking is ridiculous, the quality of ingredients superb, and yet, the place was so sedate I almost wanted to whisper to my DC.
So we had:
a special of veal tongue that was so supple and delicious I almost licked the plate
fried smelts - hurrah for smelts! I love these late winter swimmers and was ecstatic to see them on the menu and served head & tail on.
tuna pate - folks love this and I can see why, though it's not really my thing. I would have rather had another order of veal tongue.
boar meatball - oh my god. oh my god. I want 5 more orders of these and then a stretcher to take me home on.
1/2 order of the spahi - flavors were fine, though unfortunately, I couldn't stop comparing it to the sea urchin carbonara at Coppa.
welks in a lemon parsley salsa - chef sent this out on the house - great bright flavors to contrast our rich choices.
cheese plate - awesome selections including a buffalo milk taleggio-style cheese that I couldn't get enough of. Locally sourced honey and apple that chef told us all about - the care in selection of ingredients really shines through.
truffles with our check - who doesn't love chocolate? Crazy people, that's who.
James did a great job pairing wines for me, including a Refosco I wouldn't have tasted otherwise - it's super funky with that barnyard scent. Loved it.
If you are waiting in line at 5:00 to get into Coppa, don't. I know that Jaime and Kenny are local cheflebrities, and their pastas are certainly awesome, but Erbaluce is doing something so much more interesting! Plus you don't have to stand in line like you're waiting to get into Middlesex on a Saturday night.
Guess I can chime in, as gini's DC. Almost totally agree with her review.
I arrived first (6pm), and there were 5 people at the bar and no one in the dining room. There was also no bartender behind the bar, and no one at the host station. I hovered awkwardly for about 2-3 minutes (which REALLY is a long time in that context!), peeked into the dining room where 2 servers saw me but didn't acknowledge me, and then sat at the bar. Memories of negative service reviews were making me nervous.... A couple minutes later, the bartender came back, and after that there was no hitch at all in service. James the bartender was friendly and helpful; I spoke briefly with Joan; and as gini mentioned, the chef came and talked with us a couple of times.
Wine was great and very affordable - I think $7-9/glass? The boar meatballs really were amazing - and the sauce they were served over made the dish even better. I was nervous about tongue (yes I can be squeamish, sorry! but at least I try stuff I'm scared of!) but it was delicious. The smelts were okay (again a little scary to me), but the plate with the garlic aioli-type sauce was whisked away before I could try it on the fish - I bet it was awesome. Tuna pate was fantastic! And the cheese.... wow. I agree that the spaghi didn't match up to Coppa's - I kinda wish we had tried the mushroom lasagnetta instead. (And I was sad there was no rabbit.)
I will definitely be back - as gini said, this place more than compares to Coppa, with tons of seating and none of the waiting.
Was just there the other night and had yet another terrific meal.
Braised veal ribs, not unlike pork belly, were incredibly rich, meaty and fatty all at once. As counterpoint to the ribs, we thoroughly enjoyed the bitter, bright, citrus and sea-faring notes of scungilli & watercress dressed lightly in olive oil, lemon juice/zest.
I doubt I'll ever have another meal there without the tuna pate.
See if you can actually adhere to your ordering plan without it getting totally thwarted by Chef continually sending out gifts from the kitchen. I have yet to get to the actual entrees on the menu because I end up getting full on what he seems to think are "amuses", and which I think are amusingly huge 'tastes'. Nevertheless, I still can't shake the thought of the impossibly rich lobster broth he slid before me the other night - if it's on the menu in some way/shape/form, be sure not to miss it. Same goes for the charcuterie.
So far it seems like you can basically close your eyes and point at the menu, not going wrong.
That menu is constantly changing, but I always suggest sampling a few half-orders of pasta, which are consistently wonderful. I also think it's worth saving room for dessert. You might ask if there are items with a short season or limited supply; the chef is very seasonally focused, and you might hit something interesting that's not often available.
Appetizers - the squid is awesome. small portion, but tons of flavor. Ask for the meatballs off the bar menu. You'll only get a few so you might want to make it a double order. SO GOOD.
If they have the rabbit, get it. I also really like the faraona (guinea fowl). Their game dishes are great. Their signature dish is wild boar. I was a little underwhelmed by it compared to the other dishes I've had there.
Their pasta is incredible also.