Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day One at Piccolo Sogno Due

There is some interesting-sounding stuff on the Piccolo Sogno Due menu, including bread made with squid ink, raw fish rolled into pasta sheets with what looks like spicy mayo, and a dish that features house made saba. Some items sound more appealing (the bread) than others (the maki-like tuna tartare), but none of it worked particularly well for me.

Twice during lunch, I had to spit food from my mouth into a napkin. The first spit yielded a pebble-sized, rock hard piece of bone or stone from a bite of lamb meatballs, for which I suspect the meat had been ground in house. The second spit produced an impossible-to-chew, plasticky layer of artichoke that had been part of a pasta dish with clams, and should have been peeled off during prep.

Though it's hard to forgive such carelessness - even on a restaurant's opening day - I would have been inclined to do so had the rest of the food showed more promise. I detected no sea flavor in the aforementioned squid ink baguette, but it did deliver an unpalatable overdose of salt. That pasta dish with the tough artichokes also had tiny, mushy clams and a lot of butter sauce that just pooled at the bottom of the plate rather than adhere to and flavor the linguine. The garlic slivers were sweet and nicely toasted, at least. Aside from the near tooth breaking bit in the lamb meatballs they were fine, if a little tougher and denser than I would have liked.

It's a 100 degrees out today, so when my server came over to take a drink order, I requested a Spritz, which I am inclined to do on days like this. A few minutes later he came back to report that the bartender gave him a look that made him feel like an alien when he asked her for the drink. Neither of them had any idea what a Spritz is, which is OK I guess; but was there not someone on staff at this completely empty, massive restaurant run by vastly experienced Italian restaurateurs who could have explained it? Could someone have googled it instead of just saying "Can I get you a prosecco instead?"

A very nice guy in chefs whites, who I assumed was Tony Priolo, and a couple of men in expensive-looking suits spent the latter part of my meal glad handing people they knew around the now-filling-up dining room, and I was reminded of the time I ate at The Pump Room when it first opened. Back then, with Jean George doing similar glad handing I wondered what power Brad Phillips - whose cooking I like a lot - really had over the menu. He didn't last, of course, but perhaps Todd Stein's experience working for the Marriott and some famous chef's Las Vegas outpost will better prepare him for what looked to me like a similar set-up.