Big Night at Grotto
Some of you have braved this event in the past and reading your reports have always intrigued so I was excited when an invitation to last night's banquet was extended to me. For the uninitiated, the Big Night feast at Grotto is a recreation of the scene in the film where the brothers -- Primo and Segundo -- throw down the dog to show the world what their little kitchen can do. Wine is flowing, a huge timpano is presented, and a conga line forms ... the only thing missing last night was the conga line.
Started with antipasti -- salumi, gorgonzola dolce, mozarella and tomatoes, crostini, balsamic dressed greens. We were starving so we dug right in, forgetting for a minute everyone's advice to pace ourselves.
At this point the chef came out of the kitchen to talk about his inspiration for the event and to describe what we were about to experience. The roast suckling pig was displayed, one of the huge timpano's got a round of applause....
Next was a delicious clear consomme with fresh ditalini and carrots. This soup was so delicious and so simple. I could have taken the bowl to my mouth and slurped it all up but again, moderation.
A trio of risotti next -- mimicking the colors of the Italian flag. The formaggio was the creamiest cheesiest thing I've had in a LONG time, and the seafood and pesto were both lovely. Not the most delicate risotto I've ever had, and a little on the thick side, but very nice.
Up next was the timpano, a big thick wedge for each of us. Smoky tomato sauce and simple meat sauce inside (instead of the meatballs, cubes of mortadella, etc., that you might find in a more elaborate version).
At this point, we're feeling full, but the ever-flowing wine and convivial atmosphere keeps the party going....
Entree's next, with a big platter of veg to accompany the mains. The vegetables were great, too ... spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, mushrooms. Platters of chicken parm, tenderloin, duck rolled in pancetta, seared scallops and the roasted suckling pig came around and of course we had a bit of each. I was actually most impressed with these mains -- every one cooked perfectly, served piping hot, and just nicely executed in general.
(forgive the messy plate in this picture ... http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4005/4...
Dessert (oof) was simple berries with cream and perfect after the feast. Could have used a coffee or sambuca here, but really that would have been excessive.
I have to say the service was a standout -- every one there seemed to be having fun along with us, and the wine glasses were refilled promptly, plates were cleared silently, food was delivered efficiently. It can't be easy to serve that flawlessly all at once, but they pulled it off.
Sadly no conga line, and Louis Prima never showed up, but it was a really fun evening and I'd definitely do it again.
Awesome report, yy. I am more than a little jealous - Now if only they could get Minnie Driver or Isabella Rossellini to show up!
Wow! Sounds like something I need to do. Didn't know one was coming up. Have to keep watch.
The food was indeed excellent, better than I expected. The soup... I did not think a clear soup could be so flavorful. The cheese risotto was surprising in a good way. The mashed potatoes were flat-out awesome. The beef tenderloin was absolutely perfect. I loved the smokey sauce in the timpano. These were the standouts to me, but everything else was great too. I think I gained 6 lbs.
At first I thought I would do "Big Night" once, and that would be enough, but now I'd like to go again. I could have sworn I heard the chef say this would be the final Big Night, but it was said in such a nonchalant manner, I must have misheard him. YY, did you hear that?