Edward: We’d visited Torino’s a few times for breakfast and lunch, but we hadn’t ever tried their dinner menu. I regret not going earlier on, when they were trying out a tasting menu. I’ll bet that was really special.
Hannah: I’m glad we went after last review when we realized we should be eating there all the time. Dinner!
OK, the eats: Cheese platter, house-made foie gras.
For me: Agnolotti (a kind of braised/roast meat ravioli)
Edward: For me, grilled swordfish with roasted vegetables.
Hannah: What did you drink?
Edward: I had a beer that I don’t really remember what it was, because I guess it wasn’t very memorable.
Hannah: I think it was some local brew. I had some nice white wine, but they don’t have their wine list online, so I can’t remember what it was!
Edward: Dang it!
Hannah: I guess we have to go back!
Let’s talk about their cheese platter.
Hannah: I specifically requested more mostarda di frutta because that stuff is ambrosial with cheese. And Daniela (the co-owner) stopped by our table and I complained about not getting any goat cheese when we were there for lunch. So we got extra goat balls!
Edward: It wasn’t even really a complaint, really, so much as “Ohhh, I wish I had gotten those the other day! Bew Hew!”
Hannah: You’ve been saying “Bew Hew” a lot lately.
Edward: That’s my new thing. I think it sounds more sad than just “boo hoo.”
Hannah: Hmmm. OK.
Yes, I wasn’t asking for more cheese balls, just stating that I had never tried them.
Edward: Also, this is the only time when it is appropriate, or welcome, to have extra goat balls.
Hannah: Also on the platter: Taleggio. Pecorino Romano. Parm?
Edward: Yes, there was Parm.
It came on a board with some mostarda di frutta, which you requested extra portions of — good going there, it was delicious — and some of those small roasty onions.
Edward: How did you like the cheeses?
Hannah: They were delicious on their own — I am a fan of Italian cheeses — but with that mostarda, they were insanely good. I love that stuff!
Edward: I probably could have eaten a jar of it. The mustard makes it more than just a fruit jam. I would like a dish of that on the side with any braised or roasted meat.
Hannah: Roasted meat, yes! Really, really good. Honey, what did you think of that unique housemade foie?
Foie Gras au Torchon
Edward: I’m not very experienced with foie gras — I think I may have only had it one or two other times, either at Rosemary’s or Jennifer James 101 — so I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. The last time I had it, I believe it was seared, so to me it tasted more like sweetbreads. But the foie gras au torchon at Torino’s was very different — more like liverwurst, except…EXTREME.
Hannah: To me, really complex flavor, but less….livery or something.
Yes, traditional foie is unctuous but stronger.
Edward: Not as livery, more smooth.
Hannah: Served with smoked duck breast that was…..remarkable. So salty and smoky.
Edward: I liked the small chunks of fat that were embedded throughout the foie — it gave it some variety in the mouth feel.
Oh, the smoked duck breast — why, oh why, could it not have been about fifteen times larger….
Hannah: So they make their foie “au torchon,” which means wrapped in a towel for some portion of the process. According to our friends at Wikipedia, it’s a very traditional preparation.
Edward: The whole thing was delicious — very intense, but like you said, not in a livery way necessarily. It’s the kind of dish that’s so crazy with flavor that you wish you could eat a gigantic bowl of it, but the sad reality is that we can only take so much flavor! So it’s a small portion, but really the perfect size.
Hannah: Yes, too rich to eat a bowl — same with the smoked duck breast.
Edward: It leaves you wanting more, which is good.
Hannah: Keeps you hungry for a little more, dang it!
Edward: Fortunately for us, though, there was MOAR FOOD!
To get the less-good part out of the way, you weren’t crazy about the agnolotti (which is a ravioli filled with their spezzatino — a stew with braised beef — with a gravy made with more of the spezzatino).
Hannah: But that’s my fault. I wanted pasta and should have chosen something different, because braised meat isn’t top on my flavor list. But it is for some people, and I bet they would love that agnolotti.
Edward: Yeah, I think under different circumstances we would have loved it.
Hannah: Although one ravioli had burst and it was the last one I ate and it was horrible tasting. So that also colored my opinion.
Edward: Why was it horrible tasting?
Hannah: It must have popped a little during cooking, but not enough to simply open up and kind of disappear. So inside was water and the pasta was waterlogged.
Edward: Oh, no good.
On the whole, though, I think the problem was not the dish, but the fact that we had it after two very rich, intensely flavored appetizers. So in the wake of that a dish that’s more plain and savory and understated tends to kind of disappear.
Hannah: Yes, I absolutely agree. My choice was wrong, not the dish.
Edward: It’s the kind of dish that I bet would be incredibly satisfying in the fall or winter, When you want that kind of warm, hearty comfort food.
Hannah: But yours, on the other hand…yours, sir.
Grilled Swordfish with Roasted Vegetables
Edward: You know…when you say the words “grilled swordfish with roasted vegetables”…it just doesn’t sound very exciting. I mean, I like grilled swordfish, but what I picture is kind of mundane — a very chewy piece of fish, like you’re eating one of those cheaper cuts of steak.
For their fish entree, Torino’s normally offers a whole grilled branzino, which is a fish I have not tried before and was curious about. Unfortunately they didn’t have any that night, so the swordfish was the substitute special. I’m not sure what made me try it — I might have overheard a waiter saying it was really good.
Hannah: Thank the stars you did try it! Because it was a frevelation (a freakin revelation)!
Edward: Am I crazy? Are we crazy?
Edward: Because what was the deal?
Edward: The swordfish was SO GOOD!
Hannah: Oh, yeah. so very good. I didn’t know swordfish could taste like that.
Edward: And it’s not just “oh, you’ve never had decent swordfish,” because I’ve had swordfish many times in my life and it has never been that tasty.
Hannah: Do you think it was just super super fresh?
Edward: Yes, I think it was and that probably had a lot to do with it.
One thing I love about Torino’s is that they seem to be very uncompromising about their ingredients. If they can’t get fresh, they just won’t put out inferior product just to be able to serve it. So, no branzino, but here’s some stupid awesome swordfish!
Hannah: Did we have dessert?
Edward: Wait, can I just say a leetle more?
Hannah: Yes, please.
Edward: I just want to say something about why the swordfish was good, along with all these superlatives. The flesh was succulent — it still had some meatiness but it was more like filet mignon, you know that buttery texture? But all of that bold flavor you want from a swordfish.
It was the kind of fish that justifies spending $30 on a fish dish. You go to some place like Pappadeaux and they have fish on their menu for $25-30, and when you eat it, you think, “What! I could have made this better at home!” But when it’s as fresh as this and so expertly prepared, you’re happy to pay $30 for the experience.
Hannah: But there’s something missing in your description. Swordfish is a “meaty” fish. When you have it, you expect it to be a little dry, no? But that one was…not firm. Not mushy. But like, soft.
Edward: Yeah, I normally expect swordfish to be a little dry and fibrous.
No, not mushy at all. It was soft, but not mushy.
Hannah: Like deliciously poached lobster.
Edward: Exactly, yeah.
Hannah: And not at all fibrous.
Edward: And it did actually come with a little lobster reduction that added some nice light flavor.
Hannah: OK, let’s move on from the swordfish because they’ll probably never have it again.
Hannah: BEW HEW
Okay, so then there was a brief tussle as we tried to decide whether to not have dessert and be merely uncomfortably full, or have dessert and possibly explode at the table.
I think we made the right choice, albeit not the wise choice.
Hannah: What did we choose? DESSERT? I honestly can’t remember. I guess that’s how I know I don’t have a sweet tooth.
Edward: We did choose dessert! You had the affogato caffé, I had the panna cotta.
Hannah: Oh yeah — that was noms. Ice cream w/espresso.
Hannah: You had the panna cotta for the second time that (day, week?)
Edward: I had eaten it for lunch earlier that day, and loved it so much I couldn’t not eat it again.
Hannah: But you liked it a wee bit better at lunch, right?
Edward: The panna cotta was just perfect. It was like eating a cloud!
I did like it better at lunch, only because they put it in a large-ish container with the strawberry coulis on the side, so I could eat some of the panna cotta separately.
It was also a less firmly set than at dinner, so the texture was a little creamier. I’m guessing they make all of their panna cotta in one batch in the morning, so at dinner it’s going to be firmer.
What did you think of the service this time? On our earlier lunch visit, we had a bit of a rocky start with the one waiter who sort of wandered off and never came back.
Hannah: The service was fine. I had the impression that our server was new, so not as intimately familiar with the menu/food as someone more experienced would be. But that will come with time.
Edward: He was pretty enthusiastic.
Hannah: Yes, very. And friendly. But my favorite kind of service is competent and sincere, and his inexperience (which I’m assuming, because I actually have no idea) made it less than both.
Edward: The one lady — I need to find out her name so I don’t just keep calling her “the one lady” — who’s often our waiter is very competent and sincere.
Hannah: Yes, our favorite server there has both those qualities.
Edward: One thing I’m curious to know your opinion about — during that dinner service, we had a few different servers coming by our table, like for bread, water etc. Do you like that? Do you feel like it elevates service to have a lot of staff attending to you? I know for many people “too many waitstaff” is a hallmark of fine dining.
Hannah: I definitely don’t mind it.
Edward: At our all-time favorite restaurant, Rosemary’s, diners were swarmed with waitstaff!
Hannah: It makes sense to me that some people have certain assignments…they’re all on our team! But I am aware when that is occurring that tipping generously (if you liked the service) is even more important, because your main server is going to have to tip out to those other guys.
Edward: Right, you’re tipping several people. That’s why I go all Johnny Depp on a restaurant where I feel like I was well taken care of.
Hannah: Look, about Torino’s service…it’s not terrible, it’s not even mediocre. But it’s not at the level that the rest of their biz is, in my opinion. But that’s (1) not uncommon here; and (2) maybe changes over time.
Edward: But I think that’s an issue with a lot of really good restaurants — I’m looking at you, Graham’s Grille.
Hannah: Oh good lord, compared to Graham’s Grille, Torino’s is Rosemary’s.
TORINOS @HOME WE LIKE YOU
Edward: We do indeed!
Hannah: Now we’ve done breakfast lunch and dinner there. CAN RECOMMEND.
TORINO’S @ HOME
Breakfast: Tuesday – Friday 8:00am – 10:45am, Saturday 9:00am – 10:45am
Lunch: Tuesday – Saturday 11:00am – 2:30pm
Dinner: Friday – Saturday 5:30pm – 9:00pm
New! Happy Hour: Friday – Saturday 2:30pm – 6:00pm