I was invited to preview the Autumn menu at Andrea Ristorante a few weeks ago where not only were we treated to delicious fare, but also, introduced to the restaurant’s new chef, Luigi Fineo, a native of Gioia.
We began with cocktails on the terrace before moving into the dining room’s patio area. The sun was just setting and the glorious pink and orange hues were visible on the horizon as we sat down to sample an array of what the season has to offer.
Bread service of three different types of bread arrived with foccacia, a whole wheat roll, and another with scallion. I’m told all breads are made in-house.
** please note photos depict tasting portions **
We started with House Cured Duck Breast Carpaccio, “Cervia” rock salt, mild gorgonzola dressing ($18) — so delicate, so packed with flavor, OH SO GOOD! I could’ve eaten another plate of this!
Sicilian Pistachio Pappardelle with braised lamb ragu ($23) was next. I haven’t had pasta this good since being in NYC several months ago. All pasta is made in-house and the difference is immediately evident when you taste it. The pappardelle has the perfect texture and the lamb ragu is rich and unctuous.
A wheel of parmesan reggiano was brought tableside to showcase the next dish. Porcini Mushroom Risotto ($29) was poured into the wheel and mixed together so the cheese can coat the risotto before it is spooned into a pan and served to us.
Fresh porcinis are delicate and subtle — not as intense in flavor as the dried version — while the rice was just perfectly executed. There was a hint of cheese, not overpowering whatsoever. Note that the table-side presentation requires a minimum of two orders.
Our next home made pasta was a ricotta Cavatelli with langoustine, chanterelle mushrooms and brown butter ($25). When you come to Andrea, I highly recommend getting any pasta dish because you won’t be disappointed. The cavatelli were delightfully toothy and the langoustine so sublime. I would have a huge problem when I return because I won’t know which to order, this or the pappardelle!
I didn’t have much room left for the Greg Norman Wagyu Tenderloin Grade 9 with roasted vegetables, cipollini onions, and bone marrow (8oz/$70) but it was a perfect medium rare and I couldn’t resist. If you’re an avid meat eater, this is definitely the dish for you!
Chef Luigi couldn’t have known that zabaglione was my absolute favorite dessert of all time, so Vanilla Sabayon with Passito Wine Baba ($15) balsamic fig compote and whipped cream was really hard to pass up. I love sabayon, or, zabaglione, and this was like eating little bits of puffy clouds.
My giveaway this week is for Andrea’s Pranzo Veloce, the quick lunch which runs from Wednesdays through Sundays. The two-course menu espresso (express menu) is served in 45 minutes or less. The giveaway includes this lunch for two at Andrea Ristorante valued at $60. Leave me a comment as to why you should win this delightful prize. Please see below for restrictions.
The gift voucher expires December 31, 2013 and reservations are based on availability. Dining credit for Andrea only, does not include alcohol, tax or gratuities – not to exceed $60. Cancellations or changes to reservations must be made 7 days prior to arrival to avoid forfeiting your certificate. Certificate must be rendered upon presentation of final bill. Certificate has no cash value, is non-transferable and may not be combined with any other offers or promotions. Some restrictions and blackout dates may apply with major restrictions during summer months. Not valid during special events, holidays or holiday weekends. Strictly not eligible for extension. May not be replaced if lost or stolen.
22701 South Pelican Hill Road
Newport Coast, CA 92657