On top of that, Festa Regionale diners get a passaporto which rewards them for sampling these regional cuisine (sometimes it's a nice trinket such as wine charms, other times it could be a biscotti or a bread from their bakery.) Have a fully stamped passaporto (six months in a row) and you get a special ceramic plate & an entry for a trip to Italy. Talk about a great way to retain a loyal customer base.
Of course, when handed the menu my eyes made a beeline for their regional specialty, this time focusing on the Northern Aosta Valley - known for their mushrooms, truffles & fontina cheese (think Swiss but nuttier and less fat.)
Having my eye on a rather heavy looking dessert, I decided again to go for 2 lighter courses for dinner, first off:
Zuppa con Porcini e Castagne (Porcini & Chestnut Soup), topped with foccacia crouton. If there was ever a soup that was perfectly salted, this would be it, with just enough to add the needed character but not a maddeningly dehydrating bowl of liquid sodium chloride. That being said, I didn't care much for the combo in flavors -- and guess the mushroom-chestnut mix looked better in text than it does in taste. There were chunks of sweet, firm chestnuts and the soup had woodsy-earthy flavors of a porcini, but together it was just kind of unremarkable - as if the two cancelled each other out.
Moving on, I decided upon an appetizer for a main course:
Polenta Alla Boscaiola, basically polenta with chicken breasts, crimini mushrooms, a gravy & white truffle oil. The polenta had a very good texture, like moist fluffy whipped potatoes, except with corn meal. The chicken strips were juicy and soaked up the flavors of the gravy and aromatic white truffle oil really well, and the mushrooms were not bad, could've been more flavorful. But all in all a good dish that didn't fill me up, leaving me room for . . .
Tortino al Cioccolato, flourless chocolate torte on top of a thin biscotti pancake, with raspberries, chocolate syrup and cremé anglaise. So rich I'd swear it had a gravitational pull of its own, with no resistance from my spoon or willpower. Less sweet than its other flourless chocolate cousins, I can actually eat a few bites w/o thinking, "Geez I need coffee/water pronto!" However, it was a bit sticky which, combined with its density, meant I had to literally suck the thing off my dessert spoon.
And of course, I had my passaporto, which meant this time around I got a mini-loaf of their porcini ciabatta bread to take home - crusty and firm, sliced up these made for great soup dunkers!
Porcini/Chestnut Soup: 5.95
Ambience/Decor: 4.5/5 (Great atmosphere and nice patio area)
Value: 3.5/5 (Nothing is a particular bargain, but I definitely didn't feel ripped)
- On top of regional foods, they also rotate various Italian wines to go with the food (which I usually get, but opted out of this time.)
- You can also get a passaporto by going to their Web site.
1 West Colorado Blvd.