Acquarello is a fairly large restaurant that opened in 1994 and received a Michelin star in 2000. The dining room is in shades of aqua and cream and Italian music plays in the background. The large tables are nicely spaced and one wall is windows overlooking the outdoor patio. Canvas is stretched across the ceiling which dampened the lighting and kept the noise level down, but with the windows in the daytime there is plenty of light. At lunch they offered 2 tasting menus, an a la carte menu and a 3 course lunch special. They offer wine pairings but we chose our own bottle of wine. Chef Mario Gamba was in the house and recommended the Classic Tasting menu which is composed of his hits of the last 24 years. Pacing and portion control were spot on. It turned out that the wonderful and friendly server we had was chef’s son Massi. He was incredibly patient when giving descriptions and with my questions. Service was well matched to the wonderful food.
While looking over the menu we were brought a basket of breads, two olive oils and a selection of salts – citrus, sea and chocolate. The breads were a nice variety with crisp crusts and dense interiors.
An amuse bouche was panna cotta of celery that was creamy and cool.
The tasting started with Vitello Tonnato with tuna cream and a small seasonal salad. The veal was tender and the tuna cream, accented with a caper berry, coordinated with it perfectly for a great blending of flavors and textures. The salad was quite small but made a nice garnish for some bites.
Fried zucchini flowers were served with prawns and saffron sauce. The zucchini flower was coated and then fried to a light crisp with not a hint of grease and filled with chopped squash. The prawn was huge and cooked perfectly for a delightful set of flavors and textures. The saffron sauce was a nice and really attractive accompaniment, highlighted with some greens and tomatoes. A winner.
Ravioli was stuffed with ground walnuts and ricotta and surrounded by a parmesan sabayon sauce. Treviso radicchio crowned the center of the plate and amazingly it had no hint of bitterness. Chef does a combination of freezing and soaking in warm water to remove the bitter taste of the vegetable. The foamy sauce seemed to have a bit of walnut dust also which added to the excellent flavors of this dish. I wanted to mop up every bit of that delicious sauce.
Tortelli was stuffed with figs and surrounded by pinot bianco foam, dotted with cassis and centered around a goose liver. The cassis was well reduced and artfully introduced to the foam. The figs were sweet in the tender pasta and gave the eater a fun little pop to the seeds when eating. A nice set of contrasting textures and flavors in this excellent dish. It also left a terrific aftertaste in the mouth following its finish.
Scottish Salmon was served with cauliflower and soy-coriander sauce. The cauliflower was in the form of purée, roasted and almost raw from the sous vide. The thickened soy-coriander sauce was perfectly clear and seasoned just right to add enough salt to the fish. Another wonderful offering.
A break brought a spuma of pears, sour cream and a tarragon sorbet. The tarragon was really strong and worked great with the sweet pears, that also contributed a fun bit of grit. It was wonderfully refreshing and nice.
Braised Fassone beef was served with a Barolo wine sauce and celery. The beef was a cut of cheek meat and very tender and moist. The wine sauce was exquisite with a great textural contrast to the meat. It was cooked around 12 hours and yet did not lose moisture having been marinated in red wine and then brined in salt water. The celery was in a purée and worked great with the rich meat and sauce.
Chocolate ravioli with orange sauce was served alongside mint ice cream. The ravioli were so tiny it was amazing that they could be stuffed but it all worked and blended nicely with the orange fruit and sauce. The minty ice cream added a great touch and was creamy and delicious on its own.
Last treats were white chocolate leaves, chocolates with vanilla cream, crisp candied orange slices and almond and pistachio cakes. All were very good and the crisp orange was extremely delicate and the nut cakes well flavored. A terrific ending for a fantastic meal.