I've been wanting to come to Cavour for a long time. When I would search for "Italian in the Galleria", the Granduca Hotel would always come up in the results. With an Italian Chef and homemade pasta, who could go wrong?
To start, cold carrot soup w crouton and crème fraiche. This soup was about contrast. The crunch of the crouton, the smoothness of the soup, the creaminess of the crème fraiche. The colors also popped. The soup itself was well seasoned, didn’t taste or look like baby food either. A nice start.
Course two, thinly ribboned honeydew and cantaloupe, salted and tossed in olive oil were remarkable. Oh that’s right, this dish was showcasing the vegetable terrine, not the melons. The terrine itself was composed of carrot, squash, and red pepper with a reasonably heavy background of vinegar. Well constructed terrine, but the melons in oil were fabulous. The highlight of the night.
Course three, spaghetti con ricci with hints of lemon zest and vermouth. A darker sauce splashed with cream. The pasta was cooked nicely and made on-site. There was one tougher piece of seafood, although the rest were fine. A good punch of black pepper as well, a bit surprising, as this is a Southern Italian styled dish, a type of red pepper is more likely used. Rich dish because of the cream. This was paired up with a Chardonnay and I thought it clashed with the lemony notes in this dish.
Course four, tortelloni in a puttanesca style sauce, but without chili. The stuffed pasta was filled with cheese, a stringy cheese, rather than ricotta, so as the pasta cooled, the cheese created more texture or chew to the pasta. This felt more like an American dish,rather than Italian. No subtlety, just big. Not my favorite dish of the night. On the upside, it was served with a rich Burgundian wine with the acid and structure cutting through the layers of cheese and bold flavors of the pasta.
To finish, a filet of beef served with a corn bread pudding that included coconut and currants. The sauce reduction served with the beef made the beef flavors come out. Filet is not my favorite. Lacking fat, it lacks flavor. If it wasn’t for the sauce, the filet might be a bit dry. The corn coconut currant bread pudding was just plain weird. Texture in the mouth almost felt like it was over fatty, as each bite simply fell apart. The meal was paired with a Super Tuscan style wine and it paired off nicely.
My overall impression of the Granduca is a good one. But as I dig through each dish, I find I wasn’t overwhelmed by any one particular dish. There were highlights, the thinly shaved ribbons of melon actually gave me a couple ideas recently for my own cooking. The carrot soup was outstanding. But pasta, it really comes down to pasta. I sensed no simplicity, only big flavors in the bigger state of Texas.