Sunday, July 3, 2011

Good Friends and Good Food at Cantinetta

Meeting friends for dinner is one of life’s more special pleasures. Meeting them in a cozy, elegant neighborhood spot elevates the experience to marvelous. Bob and I recently had such an evening at Cantinetta in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. In a small brick building tucked into a residential area, Cantinetta is a down to earth gem serving delicious Northern Italian food. I immediately loved the ambiance with wood beams, chandeliers and wine bottles stowed up along the beams. Our group of six was offered a large table in the back where it was quieter so we could all chat.

Our server was friendly and attentive (and wearing a totally cute top, I might add). We began with cocktails, Prosecco and Laphroaig and by sharing a selection of antipasti and contorni. One of my favorites, the avocado with grapefruit, oil cured olives and chilis, at first sounded like an odd combination, but turned out to be a beautiful dish with sour, salty and spicy flavors. We also enjoyed caciocavallo with a housemade rhubarb jam and crostini, baby lettuce with favas, egg yolk and anchovies, roasted cauliflower with balsamic (another favorite) and eggplant with tomato fonduta and provolone.

Bob and I shared the goat cheese agnolotti with morels and sugar snap peas and the Copper River salmon with Swiss chard and corn. The agnolotti were like little raviolis and floated in a broth with the morels and peas. Really a delicious combination! The salmon was cooked perfectly and I particularly liked the crispy skin.

Our lovely dining companions, Karen, Rob, Deb and Steve shared delicious reviews of their meals. Karen and Rob also had the agnotlotti and enjoyed the steak served with Walla Walla onions. Deb and Steve favored the pork loin with apricots and baby turnips plus a dish of farfalle, peas, prosciutto cotto and pea vines.

Wait until you hear about dessert, though … zeppole with Nutella mascarpone and ginger sugar - warm doughnuts that explode with a rich liquid sauce when you break into them. I wish I could show you a photo but they were pounced on immediately! We also had to try the special of the evening, a strawberry balsamic panna cotta. Velvety and fresh in its berry taste, it could not compete with the zeppole (you’ll be licking your plate to get the last of the Nutella mascarpone). I’ll be back for more!

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