Oliveto Whole Hog Dinner....
Went with friends last night. There were 6 of us, so we got to try a lot of stuff. Table favorites were:
Fried pork trotter with ancient Roman oenogarum
Carpaccio of salted pork loin with roasted beets, Gaeta olives, capers
The Sweet Meats platter
Butternut squash gnocchi with spiced pork ragù and aged aceto balsamico
Pappardelle nere with pork heart and wild mushroom ragu
Wild boar scaloppine alla Count Pavel Stroganov with Chanterelle mushrooms, caramelized onions, sour cream, and riso nero
Candy Cap mushroom flan with Derrie date confetti and bacon-covered chocolate honeycomb candy
Potatoes fried in pork renderings
Things we tried that were not great, so probably worth skipping in favor of something else:
Spit-roasted acorn-fed porchetta with Sicilian nero d’avola gelatina, chestnut honey, Castelvetrano olives, and almonds
Fresh-milled Red Flint corn polenta
Duomo of blood orange and pig gelée with Three Sisters Farm kiwis
Warm beignets fried in lard with California bay laurel crème anglaise
It was an amazing meal, and you'll have trouble not enjoying yourself!
Long overdue review....
(1) Got there on Saturday just when they open at 5:30 PM and we were told they run out of tripe!!!!.....ouch, I was looking forward to the tripe....this version/dish was replaced with Sardinian pork cheeks...we did not get it...
(2) Wife had wine by the glass and the pours are TINY....I mean way too TINY...at $16 per glass ($64/bottle) it adds up....next time we'll get a bottle.....the wine was v. good....
(1) Warm antipasto - very good...super tender pork tongue....and the truffles...well, the truffles make any dish that much better....
(2) Blood pudding - very good...never had it perpared/presented that way but the taste/seasoning was v. nice...
(3) Sobressada and sbriciolona: good...Catalonian spreadable salame was tasty (as in original taste one can get in Spain) but a bit on a "heavy" side....salciccia cruda was nice and v. fresh but if you ever made your own sausages and had to "taste" the mixture to adjust seasoning this is nothing new/unusual...
(4) Spaghetti with pork coppa confit - V.V.V. good...not sure what the pork added to the dish (don't get me wrong it was good) but the sauce and pasta were PERFECT....
(5) Wild boar scaloppine - good, well executed but the boar got lost in the sauce...it could have been "normal" pork or even veal and you (at least my wife) would not know it....riso nero was superb!
(6) Zampone - had to have it since I never had it before and it was v. good even considering the price. Perfect consistency...almost "light" if you can imagine using that term to describe a pork dish. We were told that they prepared 25 of these for this event/dinner and to their surprise they were almost out of them...
Overall it was a v. good dinner....some dishes were a bit salty...and the portions were a bit small considering the $ (except Zampone but that was $50)....excellent service...just the right amount of attention...perfect timing...I wish all restaurants/servers were this GOOD!
Suma sumarum the damage was ~$220 with tax and tip....will be back for more...
This was my favorite of these dinners yet. Favorites:
"Sardinian pork tripe braised with saffron and mint; aged provolone and Red Flint corn polenta": this was the best tripe dish I've ever had. My wife won't usually eat tripe but she had seconds.
"Warm antipasto of pork tongue, artichokes, and black truffles": really great combination. In the dim light it can be hard to tell the tongue from some of the pieces of artichoke, I accidentally ate all my tongue.
The "Wild boar scaloppine alla Count Pavel Stroganov with Chanterelle mushrooms, caramelized onions, sour cream, and riso nero" was great--sort of Hungarian-Italian fusion.
"Pegai: Modenese hazelnut ravioli with wild boar spezzatino": these weren't the usual ravioli, they were long flat strips with hazelnut in the middle. Really interesting texture.
"Cannelloni of pork, Chanterelle mushrooms, green garlic, and Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese": very light and delicate, the mushrooms were raw.
"Pappardelle nere with pork heart and wild mushroom ragù": rich, dark, wonderful. The blood flavor in the noodles was subtle.
One of the tables next to us got the "Zampone braised in saba with lentil crema," which looked awesome but was huge, easily three times the size of the usual zampone. Might have to go back to try that.
re: Robert Lauriston
am I missing something: why wouldn't you want to eat all the tongue? Did you mean the artichoke?
Growing up, (beef) tongue was one of my favorite dishes (it was one of the few cuts of meat my mother actually could cook very well, go figure), but I can't for the life of me remember any reason why one couldn't eat it all. (and as an adult, I've had it mostly in tacos, which I certainly eat all of :-)) It does sound like a great dish..
re: Robert Lauriston
I too loved the tripe. It was so tender, and incredibly rich.
I skipped the tongue and artichoke, though I've had it many times (at past whole hogs and at the 2009 truffle dinner). It's a real favorite of mine. This is the first I've ever passed it up.
The blood pudding was excellent, though I think I prefer the version with the cherries from past years. Regardless, this has a lovely texture. It's moist and rich, but much less dense than the sausage like black pudding offered elsewhere.
The fried trotters were very tasty, but I think I prefer them on the tomato dinner when they come with tomato jam. It's a good counterpoint to the richness of the trotters.
I've had the zampone before, though not this year. It's great, but too big, even as a shared dish for two. I would have considered it if we'd had more people at our table.
My favorite this year, as well as last year, was the canederli. These dumplings, made of stale bread and pork and served with a date sugo, are amazing. Last year I vowed to make them at home. This year I am resolved to make good on this promise.
The bergamot sorbet that our server recommended as a palate cleanser before the tofeja was lovely and very welcome. The candy cap mushroom flan for dessert was awesome, though I found the chocolate honeycomb a bit overwhelming.
We went Thursday night. Pork Carpaccio was delicious, then on to the Porchetta which was amazing--so rich, but I ate the whole thing. Husband had the Tofeja del Canavese peasant stew, which was also excellent, exception being the wild boar sparerib which didn't add much to the complete success that dish was. The couple next to us had the fried pork trotter, which isn't what you imagine, and the spiedini. They both raved about them.
Headed there tonight! My first year trying the whole hog and very much looking forward to it. will report back...in the meantime, if anyone has been this week and has feedback, I'd love to hear it.
The Pappardelle nere with pork heart and wild mushroom ragú, is looking especially interesting to me....
Thanks to everyone that posted their experiences. We had about ten items from the menu, including the canederli, which I would probably not have noticed without your suggestion.
We went on the final night. The place was busy and it seemed that the kitchen was really firing on all engines. The only semi-miss, was the liver spiedino. I liked it, but the less liver-inclined felt the pieces of liver were too large. Despite that dish, the others were extremely happy with the meal and agreed that several of the dishes were so good that they'd return just to eat any one of them. I won't go through the entire list of what we ate, you can go through my profile if you want to see it. Some favorites:
- pork tongue, artichokes and truffles
- canederli dumplings -- thanks to Lexdevil for the recommendation
- spaghetti w coppa confit (couldn't pass this up)
- papardelle neri with pork heart
Overall, I loved this menu, the meal was well paced, the food well executed and service excellent.