August 26, 2011
The soft potato gnocchi brought on a Fat Bastard moment. (You remember the disgustingly plus-sized villain from Mike Myer's Austin Powers.)
Put differently, its graceful gorgonzola sauce and crisp, complementary apple counterpoint had me tempted to yell, "Get in my belly!"
If I had yelled that, there's a decent chance no one would've heard me, because Sunday's post-Concours d'Elegance, pre-opening tasting of Il Vecchio, as it nibbles closer to its intended Labor Day opening across from Happy Girl on Central where P.G. meets Monterey, was well past the expected number of 24, with a happy crowd of 40 all abuzz and clinking and munching and grinning.
They did zip it long enough to hear owner Carl Alasko (above, in front of the joint) announce the six different dishes, and say, “Good is OK, but that’s not what we’re striving for.”
The first dish I tried was the crema di verdura. The freshness and heartiness and thickness of the leek-onion-fennel-spinach soup sung to me, but think they may want to thin it out a little by opening time. I also recommended they ramp up the fennel or add some sea salt and/or some citrus to give it the pop it might be missing.
Otherwise the food impressed—and represented a significant step up from the last tasting I attended at Sand City's The Kitchen—from the chicken cacciatora in white wine-sage-rosemary sauce...
...to the housemade fiocci and ravioli stuffed with scallops and rock cod. (They were picking between pasta packaging. I think they should lean toward the ravioli—a little more pillowy on the palate, though not as dramatic on the eyes.)
...to the torte di pesche (a tasty peach tart with marsala sauce) accented by the house Parsonage wines.
The setting’s reclaimed materials and crafty patterns, meanwhile, proved as eye-catchingly hip as advertised. In other words, the hype around Ariele Alasko's work is not hype. Homegirl is good.
The old school soda-fountain barstools and foot rail feel just right.
Triangles of turquoise are inlaid along the bar and throughout the wider place.
Ariele found the chairs and other elements in a cross-country drag from Brooklyn to Pacific Grove, stopping at antique houses and garage sales and such. She's been essentially living on Central Avenue bringing it all together.
The kitchen is shiny. And open. Looking forward to when this place is too.