Ristorante Antonello Colonna is an unhandy location to get to, located on top of a building that has its entrance below street level. There is a sign outside the building entrance but then you have to go up an elevator and then up another flight of stairs. The level below is the large room where they serve lunch and it’s a nice room but huge with a high ceiling. The evening dining room has part of it set with lounge and bar seating. There is also a adjacent outside patio that would be nice when weather permits. Windows surround the large, well spaced tables and instrumental music plays in the background. Tables are draped with floor length clothes and set with large white napkins. Purse stools are provided but they are very small and the first thing my purse did was fall off of it and spill its contents. They also are quite low to the ground.
Lighting is subdued and the noise level is low, but that could also be due to a number of 10 tables in the room being empty. Each table is set with a different decorative piece, ours being a set of Gucci wolf goblets. Frankie explored them and we were reminded by several staff that they were Gucci pieces. Just like when we arrived and I remarked on the confusion of which seating are was the restaurant, they quickly told me they were the place with the Michelin star. Service is attentive but almost intrusive at times and it felt ‘unpolished’. Pacing is rushed and not at all in keeping with the mood the room is trying to set. For example, at the end of the meal they asked if we’d want a cab and we said we would. They told us we could order it when we got downstairs then a few minutes later with food still on the table someone came to tell us our cab would be there in 3 minutes. Interestingly, the cab never showed up after we hurried to leave. I left with no interest in ever returning and unfortunately I think the weird ambiance and timing made the meal less tasty, and I do know it made it less enjoyable. They offer a tasting menu (items listed) as well as an a la carte menu. It is ‘old school’ with the lady’s menu having no prices listed. We chose the tasting menu and ordered our own wines.
A series of amuse bouche start the meal. The first was a plate of 3 colors of balls. One (yellow) was stuffed with chicken and was dry. A second, blue/green one was filled with pigeon a bit more moist. The red/pink one was the most moist and filled with rabbit. They looked different but other than the moisture content, were very similar.
A tortello star shaped pasta was surrounded by a beet mousse with fennel and vinegar. The perfectly tender pasta was buttery and worked well with the sauce.
Bread was served, two types pre-sliced. It was ordinary.
The tasting started with whipped codfish stuffed in a tube served with a piece of sweet onion, sour cream and candied lemon. It was presented as finger food. When you mixed the various parts together it blended well but there wasn’t enough onion to mix with all the bites. The tube was not too crispy so it didn’t fall apart when you bit it. It was fairly tasty baccala and nicely moist.
Cavatelli and potatoes were served with cuttlefish, lupini (beans), small clams and baby squid. The pasta was fairly thick and dense but perfectly al dente. It also was smooth rather than the usual ridged. The dish was adorned with crispy bread crumbs and it tasted like some clam juice was in the potato sauce. The sauce adhered well to the pasta but it was overall pretty mildly flavored. It was good not great.
Carbonara inside out is one of their signature dishes. The egg yolks are inside the pasta stars (same shape that was in the amuse) and the cheese is in the sauce. It was not sticky or heavy but each pasta piece was decorated with a piece of guanciale. It was excellent and you could see why it is one of their regular items.
Crunchy pork and fruits mustard was the main course. It was served with smoked mashed potatoes and candied fruit. The pork was cooked to a crispy exterior but it would have been nice to have a bit of sauce to go with the meat. It was a good fat to meat ratio and the candied fruits tasted of honey. The mustard flavor really went well with the meat. The potatoes were quite smokey but not overly buttered or rich. Mixing the fruit with the pork made me think of wasabi.
The pre-dessert was a maritozzo or sweet bread roll filled with whipped cream. They called their bread a croissant but it was dense like a cake. The cake was sweet but the cream could have used a tad more sugar or would have been better as a custard. It should have been outstanding but it was okay.
The mignardise tray came next before the actual dessert, which struck me as odd. There was a mixture of a number of things, but not 2 of each. It included cannoli, tarts with cream and strawberry, almonds, meringue and chocolate. None were memorable.
Dessert was a custard and chocolate diplomatico with salted caramel. It came out puffy and then the waiter proceeded to take my fork and crush it and cut it up. My thought is, if that’s what you wanted to serve bring it out that way. The instruction was to take a piece of the squashed crisp and dip it in the caramel. The crisp portion had ultra thin layers that were really crisp and layered with custard. This was a nice collection of tastes and textures and for once plenty of sauce to mix with it.