We were delighted to be invited to the relaunch party of C19 Restaurant.
One of the few perks of this job is the occasional opportunity to enjoy really good food for free.
C19's Venetian Chef/Owner Andrea Luca Rossi is serious about food. He has fully embraced the Slow Food Movement which seeks to reconnect us with the food we eat, resurrect local culinary and agricultural traditions, and foment responsible and sustainable food production.
We met several of Chef Rossi's suppliers, including Alex Archambaultto of Grateful Acres, whose farm partners with C19 to produce fresh vegetables, fruits and eggs for the restaurant's kitchen. Chef Rossi is also committed to the "Zero Miles Campaign", which strives to serve food produced locally. Which is all wonderful, but begs the most important question: how does it taste? The all-important answer is: fantastic! We sampled a variety of dishes from C19's kitchen and one was better than the next.
Like any properly festive evening, we started with a cocktail. This refreshing Prosecco concoction infused wiith Aperol and a spritz of orange was a perfect quaff on a warm spring evening.
We moved onto the cheeseboard, which featured a selection that included fontina, reggiano, goat, fresh ricotta and local honey. Our next stop was the fish table. We met Chef Rossi's fish suppliers, the folks from Ippolito's Seafood, who shared some interesting observations about how their customers' consumption habits have changed. In general, they said people are more willing to eat raw fish than ever before. Previously, only the adventurous ate sushi; now they see fish served raw to a wider range of diners in the form of crudo, ceviche, and shellfish cocktails.
The Albacore Tuna Crudo, cubed and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with coarse pink sea salt was sublime.
The Tramezzino, a toasted brioche-style bread topped with hearts of palm salad was a vegetarian delight.
And the Venetian Polpette, aka Meatballs, were, well, all that I aspired to when I made New Year's Resolution #2 last January, i.e to master meatballs. (Still unfulfilled, for the record.) Chef Rossi tells us that his secret is using meat with a higher fat content (25%) and his mamma's recipe, of course.
The Beggar's Purse was a stunner; house made crepes, filled with pureed spinach, asparagus, and cheese, and tied with a ramp. It was so pretty we almost didn't want to eat it. Almost.
And the final icing on the proverbial cake was the John and Kira's Chocolate Figs that Chef Andrea served for dessert, paired with a surprisingly delicious Penn's Woods dessert wine, Lacrima Dolce. A pretty heavenly combo, I'll warrant.
In addition to the glorious food, the admirable commitment to its local, eco-friendly, sustainable mission, its likable chef/owner, C19 has another major plus: No dish on the menu is priced above $19.00.
What are you waiting for?