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Big Night at Grotto

yumyum Jan 29, 2010 06:36 AM

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).
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4061/4...

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.

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  1. Bob Dobalina RE: yumyum Jan 29, 2010 06:46 AM

    Awesome report, yy. I am more than a little jealous - Now if only they could get Minnie Driver or Isabella Rossellini to show up!

    1. CocoDan RE: yumyum Jan 29, 2010 06:48 AM

      Wow! Sounds like something I need to do. Didn't know one was coming up. Have to keep watch.
      CocoDan

      1. g
        gourmaniac RE: yumyum Jan 29, 2010 06:49 AM

        Wow. I've always wanted to do this! Lucky you.

        1. MC Slim JB RE: yumyum Jan 29, 2010 07:10 AM

          I've done this event a couple of times, always nearly killed myself with the amount of good food. Glad to hear they're still upholding the quality; I'll have to get to another one before too long.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          1. Alcachofa RE: yumyum Jan 29, 2010 07:18 AM

            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?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Alcachofa
              yumyum RE: Alcachofa Jan 29, 2010 07:19 AM

              No, but as you know, I was drunk. ;-)

            2. greygarious RE: yumyum Jan 29, 2010 03:41 PM

              If you misheard the statement about it's being the last one Grotto will hold, this would be a good event for a Chowdown. Wonder if they would be willing to hold one for a Chowhound-only crowd?

              1. galleygirl RE: yumyum Jan 29, 2010 05:06 PM

                Did I see some perfectly cooked fish on that plate as well? Something white with a touch of pink in the center, or was that pork?

                5 Replies
                1. re: galleygirl
                  greygarious RE: galleygirl Jan 29, 2010 05:19 PM

                  Presumably the seared scallops mentioned in the OP.

                  1. re: greygarious
                    galleygirl RE: greygarious Jan 30, 2010 04:40 AM

                    It looks like a 4 inch wide scallop, if that were the case...

                    1. re: galleygirl
                      greygarious RE: galleygirl Jan 30, 2010 07:20 AM

                      It does look large, but compare it to the size of the fork and it's more like 2", which I see in better fresh seafood cases. My favorite Chinese restaurant has a dish with scallops the size of large marshmallows.

                      1. re: galleygirl
                        yumyum RE: galleygirl Jan 30, 2010 07:21 AM

                        GG -- it was a scallop, and it was a big boy, but not 4 inches. This meal is very meat-heavy, not good for a pescatarian. Sorry :-(

                        1. re: yumyum
                          greygarious RE: yumyum Jan 30, 2010 07:27 AM

                          In the battle of the GG's, GG wins! :>D Parsing this photo makes me REALLY crave Sunkist Scallops and Walnuts.....

                  2. CreativeFoodie42 RE: yumyum Jan 30, 2010 03:57 AM

                    Wow, that sounds like an AMAZING evening!

                    1. content RE: yumyum May 11, 2010 08:54 AM

                      Grotto's holding another Big Night this Thursday! Anyone else going? I am so looking forward to it now that I've finally watched the movie!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: content
                        greygarious RE: content May 11, 2010 10:03 AM

                        As I mentioned above, this sounds like an event that would be good as a Chowhound Chowdown. If you think of it, please ask the Grotto people if they would do the Big Night dinner for specific groups.

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