Apparently the suggestions my boyfriend recieved from his coworkers as to where to take me for our dinner last night (looking for fancy Italian, I was being mean and testing his knowledge of me and not helping) were a cabaret show at the Can Can and the Melting Pot. Luckily my man knows that what I want is serious food, no frou-frou tricks or the such, and he had narrowed it down to the Pink Door (eliminated by virtue of us not wanting to go downtown) and Volterra.
So he passed the test, because serious food it was, as well as seriously good. We sat out on the patio, just far enough removed from the street in our treed enclave that we could people-watch the passerbys with out fear of them overhearing our biting commentary. Within moments of being seated, Laura our waitress was assisting us in finding a wine. BF got a kick under the table for his attempt at pleasing my love for white wine by asking about a chardonnay (it is an Italian restaurant!), but we hopped that curb and ended up with a lovely Italian white that I drank too much of to recal the name.The bread came out with a bottle of olive oil. The olive oil worked well with the herbed salt that sat on my table, however none of it could do much for the bread, which felt like it had been sitting, sliced for a little while, and was also too dense for what it was trying to be. When our cheese plate arrived, it came with more of the dense bread, but also with what BF dubbed ‘a giant cheese-it’, but was actually a great crisp parmesan cracker.
The cheese plate itself was both beautiful and amazingly paired, each cheese with its own taste enhancing partner, it recalled to me the scenes in Ratatouille in which Remy discovers the magic of combining two properly paired items. There was onions and spinach, berries, a shortbread with jam, and best of all, horseradish with beets. The other antipasto we tried was the special, a lamb tongue on the same parmesan crackers with a horseradish bite and a side of perfectly dressed spinach.
Service was impeccable, and at the exact right interval after our antipastos dissappeared, our entrees appeared. BF’s halibut was grilled to perfection, melting in the mouth along with the spicy red sauce that lay just towards an arrabiata. The broccolini could have used a knive, since they had taken ours after the bread service, it resulted in greens hanging down. The fingerling potatoes could have used a bit more heat, and I chose not to try the plastic looking cheese bread, but overall the heat of the food, both spice and temperature, made for a perfect fish dish.
While debating between the famous wild boar tenderloin dish and a pasta dish, I asked our server what tagliolini was. She said it was like angelhair (which I don’t like very much) and I thought that my choice was made, until she said the magic words “and it tastes a little like bacon”. Well that pretty much finished that decision and Pork Jowls and Squash blossoms with tagliolini it was. When my dish arrived, I realized that I would not compare the noodles to angelhair, but rather to ramen noodles, only without the soup. They were a little more al dente, but the kinky curls lend that feeling to them. The dish was salty enough that even I, who salts everything, found it to be just perfect, though for the salt conscious, this dish, loaded with bacon-y pork jowls and parmesan, beware. The squash blossoms didn’t add much other than an interesting touch of color, however the fava beans were an excellent textural foil to the pancetta like pork jowls. I adored this dish, but the portions were large, and the BF literally had to pull the bowl away from me to get the rest boxed up, as I gripped it, trying to force my stomach to make room for more. Luckily it was just as good in a slightly congealed and cold form out of the fridge this morning.
So menfolk of the world, with food loving girlfriends, Volterra is a great place for fancy dinners.
Volterra is located on Ballard Avenue.
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