Thursday, September 4, 2008

Celestino Ristorante (Los Angeles)

My least favorite cuisine is Italian. I'm not sure what it is, but I almost always feel disappointed after eating Italian food. So when Dave Corey of Core Wines was having a dinner to show off his current and future releases at Celestino Ristorante in Pasadena I was a bit hesitant on putting my name down. Of course.. when I finally decided I really wanted to try the wines Dave was pouring there wasn't any space left for me! After a bunch of begging and pleading, I was able to tag along.

Since I haven't really decided if I want to put a spotlight on my wine drinking I want to show you a few pictures of the mayhem that occurred.

Calm before the storm, just a few bottles before everyone arrived.

A variety of wines from Core, white/red/dessert

Some Rhone blends, Spanish/Rhone Blends. Good stuff. If you'd like to read more about the wines click here!

Everyone getting settled in

And here we are in full force

Now I know you didn't come here to see a table of wines, so here's the food!

Quick preface: The service was great, especially for such a large party. Each person got an appetizer + entree and each dish came out perfectly as if the party composed of only a few people.They set us up with a private room so we wouldn't bother the other patrons *wink*!

First up Swordfish Carpaccio with orange and fennel salad

Razor thin slices of swordfish drizzled with a light lemon based dressing. The dressing was a bit tart and it tended to overwhelm the thin swordfish which was having trouble standing on its own. But what really worked was when you put together the fennel salad and the swordfish together. A tad sweeter than coleslaw and a whole lot less thick, the sweetness of the fennel (if there is such a flavor) matches really well with the swordfish. THis is one of those dishes that needs to be eaten as a whole and not piece by piece.

Beef Carpacio with capers and Parmesan Cheese

What can you say? It's beef carpacio. Sharp Parmesan to match along with the same lemon sauce that's on the swordfish. Not quite as good...*duh.. no fennel salad.

Seared Foie Gras

This item isn't on the menu, Leslie asked the waiter if they were serving Foie and bam here we go.. a chunk of foie.

Next up Risotto with Red Beets and Goat Cheese

Sweet creamy goodness. This is one of the better plates of risotto I've had in awhile. The grains are a tiny bit over cooked, but in my book it's better to be overcooked and a bit soft than under cooked and hard (staring at you Providence!). I was surprised the dish was as intensively flavorful as it was, the ingredients mixed well together and didn't overwhelm you with the "green" of the beet or the bitterness of the goat cheese. Very good dish, well executed. Could have used a bit less cream cause it was rather heavy.. glad I didn't order it because I wouldn't be able to eat more than a few bites.

Wide Fettucine with roast pheasant and mushroom sauce.

Sorry for the half eaten picture. It was so delicious that it just couldn't last. The noodles were long wide well cooked pieces of fettuccine covered in a rich creamy mushroom sauce and pieces of pheasant. One couple ordered this as their 2nd course and offered to us a few bites. We were so overwhelmed by the texture of the noodles and the richness of the sauce that one fellow diner immediately ordered a second dish, then another person ordered a 3rd order of it... the waiter decided just to give us 5 plates of this for free for everyone to try =P.

The next dish was Spiral Pasta with Rapini and Sausage

This was easily my favorite dish of the night. Doughy yet not too chewy pieces of flavorful al dente spiral pasta. A light broccoli sauce mixed with bits of sausages is mixed in with the pasta. You can tell this pasta is made on the spot, some of the spirals aren't fully formed and each piece is completely uneven. What a delight to have this dish, the flavors were great and the pasta couldn't be any better.

Next up Tortelloni stuffed with pumpkin, cream-butter sage sauce

Finally my pasta, Black and White Tagliolini with Scallops and Saffron Sauce

The dish is pleasing to the nose, the fragrance of the ink pasta, saffron, warm cream, and scallops hit me and I couldn't stop sniffing. When I finally dug in, I was greeted by a sturdy cream sauce laced with saffron mixed in with once again perfectly cooked noodles. Needless to say, I devoured this dish.

We also had some dessert.. but they weren't very memorable.

Panna Cota

Pear Tart

This restaurant surprised me. I was not expecting such a treat when we pulled up to the restaurant. The noodles were all so PERFECT the sauce/meat/seasoning was just secondary to it. I highly suggest this restaurant.

Celestino Ristorante
141 S. Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA



Ting said...

Risotto should not have cream in it!!

Anonymous said...

The scallops look a bit small-- were they tender at least?

Charlie Fu said...

the scallops were okay. Nothing out of the ordinary, what made the dish was the sauce and pasta.