I’ve waited more than half a year to finally eat at Chianina. I first encountered them at the Share Our Strength event at The Montage in June last year and was surprised at the quality of food served.
Part of the Michael’s group (includes Michael’s on Naples and Michael’s Pizzeria), Chianina’s menu is pure steak house, Italian-style, but without the stuffy surroundings.
While perusing the menu, we are presented with a choice of rye or salted honey rolls, all made in-house. Slather with your choice of regular butter, olive oil or mascarpone — I loved the latter. Do not fill up on the rolls even though they come around often and it is highly tempting.
After placing our order, an amuse bouche of duck liver terrine arrives topped with crushed pistachios. It is smooth, rich and extremely decadent. The accompanying fig puree is fresh, lending a hint of sweetness to the terrine. I would have devoured its entirety had I been dining on my own.
Not being a huge salad fan, I was very surprised at how delightful the Fall Salad ($14) is. A rich log of goat cheese is surrounded by thinly sliced pear and shards of chicory. Cinnamon poached apple and rounds of sweet grape encircle the goat cheese. The combination of salty, sweet is addicting.
We contemplated between bone marrow and Corned Beef Tongue ($15) but the latter won hands down. Thin, crispy rye crouton shares the plate with tender slivers of tongue. Pickled okra and mustard seeds add a tart component to this well-composed dish. It is a modernized, deconstructed deli dish that will please anyone who loves a good deli sandwich.
The restaurant features a daily risotto special and on the night of our visit, Risotto Carbonara ($18) was the plat du jour. There are no words needed to describe this. Pancetta and grated parmesan add not only saltiness, but a level of richness to the plate. The runny poached egg was the icing on the cake. This was ravished clean within minutes.
Chianina Bone-In New York Strip ($5/oz) is a 19oz piece of meat definitely meant for sharing. There is only a limited amount of Chianina and your server will let you know what is available for the day. The best part is that the restaurant has partnered up with a Chianina rancher raising the cattle on an all-vegetarian diet in Utah. This breed of cattle has been raised in Central Italy dating back more than 2000 years ago. The meat is leaner than most which is the reason why the restaurant only offers the Chianina at a medium rare temperature. If you’re not comfortable with that, I suggest you select something else. They’re not going to cook it to medium for you. However, if you choose to go with the Chianina, you won’t regret it as the meaty flavor is exceptional.
I highly suggest ordering the Russet Gnocchi ($12) as one of the sides. These are large pieces of gnocchi, so soft and pillowy. The brown butter and sage sauce is just enough to enhance the pasta without overpowering. Absolutely stunning.
The other item is Creamed Tuscan Kale ($9). Chianina’s take on the ubiquituous creamed spinach is not only one of the best ideas ever, but it is also a more delicious one. Garlic and white wine, plus a touch of cream complete this. Unlike spinach, the kale does not become mushy and still retains some texture. Crispy kale chips are served on top for an added textural contrast.
If you are lucky enough to catch the Peanut Butter & Jelly ($12) pain perdu dessert before it comes off the menu, then you’ll know what I mean when I say, it is one of the best sweets I’ve ever eaten. A house-made Concord grape sorbet is smooth and packed with fruity goodness. The peanut butter center of the cake makes for a gooey but oh so satisfying experience.
If you’re planning to dine at Chianina, make sure you make a reservation as the restaurant fills up quickly. There is valet so there’s no need to circle around the neighborhood for parking.
5716 E 2nd Street
Long Beach, CA 90803