[NOTE: We forgot to mention in our review that all the courses (except the lobster pappardelle and the cake) were served family style. The dishes you see in the photos are five portions. –Edward]

Edward: Honey, sometimes I feel like we’re just the media outlet of Torinos @ Home!

Hannah: I will be DEAD HONEST here…I feel that way too. Like, this isn’t supposed to be the Torinos blog, because that would be crazy…right…?

However, the chance that we have eaten well is significantly higher when Torinos is involved.

So, whatever whatever.

Edward: But I think part of it is that people who like Torinos, really, really like Torinos, and want to support them. We’re not the only ones!

Hannah: Yes.

Edward: So, for instance, the special dinners they have — almost everyone who attends them is a regular. I’m starting to recognize the same faces each time. And these people — us — we have a special affection for Torinos.

Because it’s basically a mom ‘n’ pop restaurant, as Chef Maxime said last night, but it offers some of the best food in the city.

Hannah: Honey.

Even though I am a stone cold cynic about many many things…last night I realized what a gem we have in Torinos in ABQ, and how lucky the city is…and most people don’t even know it,

Edward: But I guess that’s what it is that makes people so evangelistic about Torinos — it’s the kind of restaurant you want people to know about!

Hannah: Wait, there’s something else I want to say….

It’s not perfect. Torinos @ Home is a family restaurant, and it’s not trying to be classical fine dining, or anything other than what it is. It’s real people and real people aren’t perfect. However, I’ve never been somewhere where the people behind it were so very passionate.

I think that’s what makes it special. Even if the service is off, or the dish isn’t what you expected, it’s still better than so much out there.

Edward: Isn’t that strange? I haven’t seen any restaurant inspire such passionate loyalty. I think it’s what you’re saying: we’re lucky to have Torinos because it’s kind of an anomaly in this city — a restaurant that serves food on the level of fine dining, but it’s completely unpretentious and casual. I can’t think of another restaurant like that in Albuquerque.

Hannah: OK, enough evangelizing…now the fooooood!!!

Edward: For those just tuning in, Torinos has started doing special dinners every once in a while, like wine pairing dinners and special occasion dinners. Last night was a special birthday celebration dinner, both for Chef Max and Torinos itself, which opened on Maxime’s birthday and is three years old!

Hannah: (Spoiler: IT WAS SO SO SO GOOD)

(Side note: Torinos opened in ABQ three years ago– existed in Santa Fe before that.)

The first part which was antipasti and fritto misti was served in three parts. Right?

Torinos B-day Antipasto Platter

Edward: Right. There was a fried ravioli with — pecorino romano?

Chickpea fries… < -- THE AWESOME Antipasto platter with tuna salad on a roasted pepper, and grilled veg... Proscuitto and speck ham... Hannah: And calamari. Which we can call it because: ITALIAN!

Edward: They’re allowed to call it calamari. Everyone else: squid.

Or appropriate terminology based on your native language.

But the calamari — beautifully crisp YET tender, perfectly cooked.

Also, can I just say something about the tuna?

Hannah: Um, is it “THIS IS THE BEST TUNA”? Or not?

Edward: The tuna salad epitomizes Torinos…you tell someone “tuna salad” and they think, yeah, so? But they don’t get it, Yes, it is technically “just” tuna salad. However, it is THE ABSOLUTE PERFECT TUNA SALAD.

Hannah: No. It really is. That beautiful tonno on a wee boat of roasted red pepper? Come ON.

Edward: You think, ohhhh, OK I get it now. I thought I was eating tuna salad before, but I was not. This is actually tuna salad. I’m not sure what it was I used to eat. Perhaps some kind of gutter scrapings.

Hannah: Perhaps.

Cured meats, tonno, grilled veg, calamari, baccalao. I neglected to get a pic of the baccalo because I was too busy getting in on my plate and into my gullet.

Edward: Indeed. Baccalao is something I had not tried before Torinos — if this is what it is, I am a fan!

We love their cured meats. I’m always very happy when I’m tasting the prosciutto.

Torino's B-day Prosciutto & Speck

Hannah: Was it pecorino in the ravioli? Or ricotta salata?

Edward: I thought Daniela said it was pecorino, but she could have been talking about something else. [NOTE: According to the menu, it was pecorino.]

Hannah: That little fried ravioli…I squeezed some lemon on it and it was sublime.

And chickpea fries!

Edward: The chickpea fries — are they just a chickpea flour batter that’s chilled and then cut into strips and fried?

Hannah: Yes. Ground chickpea cooked like polenta…

Chilled…

Sliced…

Fried…

Served to me…

In a quantity so shockingly small…

::cries::

Edward: These dinners are always a life lesson for me about quality over quantity. Each of the courses does not satisfy me, insofar as I would prefer a portion size equal to a gigantic trough or wheelbarrow of each dish. They are all gone way too soon. By the end of the evening, however, I am somehow totally stuffed and completely sated.

Torinos B-day Fried Ravioli & Chickpea Fries

Hannah: Yes. I didn’t know what was coming when I ate those chickpea fries.

(Spoiler: SO SO SO GOOD)

Edward: They’re so creamy inside, but have a nice crust on the outside. And just a really nice clean flavor.

Hannah: OK. Now we’re about to get serious, with the first of the “real” courses.

Hannah: BEEF CHEEKS MCGILLICUDY

Edward: That’s the actual Italian name of that dish.

NO

Beef Cheeks Rotolo!

Hannah: I kid because I love.

Torinos B-day Beef Cheeks Rotolo

Edward: LOVE THIS DISH

Hannah: I really really love.

That rotolo.

Edward: So good.

Hannah: It rotolo’d me right over!

Edward: -_-

Hannah: OK listen: I know many many people love their braised brisket agnolotti. But I’m not a lover of braised meats…usually.

Edward: Me either.

Hannah: So when people praise that brisket, I just nod in polite agreement. And that’s what I was expecting with this dish.

How-EVER. I was completely wrong. This rolled, baked pasta with braised beef cheeks and two kinds of Italian cheese…ungh.

Edward: What made it different for you? From other braised meats.

Hannah: The tenderness of the beef wasn’t….I dont know…stewy or something. It was clearly tender meat in the first place. The pasta was perfect.

Edward: Oh, so it wasn’t tenderized tough meat like braised meat usually is, but a cut that’s already pretty tender. So maybe it didn’t need so much cooking, so it didn’t get that kind of dullish flavor that slow-cooked meat sometimes has? I don’t know how to describe it, but less-cooked beef and more-cooked beef taste very different. I mean just in terms of flavor (obviously, the texture is different).

Hannah: Yes, I agree. But for many people, slow cooked meat is where it’s at! And for me, in some cases! But usually not beef. So I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I loved that rotolo.

Edward: It’s actually Torinos that has turned me around on slow cooked meat. The first time I tried their duck confit, it was worlds away from what I thought it would be.

Hannah: Oh. Yes, you’re completely correct. When I go there and don’t eat the duck confit, I feel a little sad.

Honey, a side note: this post (and this weblog) is for people who gasp when they eat something delicious. Who miss duck confit, who feel near tears when they taste a perfectly ripe strawberry in a cake like you’ve never had a strawberry before in your life. Those are our people. Not everyone is like that, which is weird to me, but I accept that human variation is a fact.

So I want no guff.

Sidenote over.

Edward: Side note to your side note: I agree!

Hannah: That’s why we’re wed.

And rotund.

Edward: Indeed.

And indeed.

Edward: Hey, back to “rotolo” — is there a term for a word that evokes the thing it’s describing, but from the actual physical shapes of the letters, not the sound (onomatopoeia)?

Hannah: Dude. That kind of question is maddening.

Edward: -_-

Hannah: OK, beef cheeks = the best thing so far.

Until the next thing….

Lobster pappardelle!!!

Edward: YEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHH

Torinos B-day Lobster Pappardelle

Hannah: Wikipedia told me that the name derives from the verb “pappare,” to gobble up.

Uh, yeah. I would have eaten the **** out of about everyone else’s bowl in my vicinity.

Edward: Gobbling occurred, yes.

Hannah: It was…ungh.

A. Perfect pasta is a joy forever.

B. Sweet lobster.

C. Some kind of brown sauce.

Why, honey. Why am I not eating that right now?

Edward: All decorum was abandoned when it came to that lobster. I started out just trying to daintily pick out the lobster meat, but eventually I just picked it up and gnawed at it like a starving castaway.

Nothing about that dish wasn’t awesome. This is an example of the “why can’t I just eat a trough of this?” idea I mentioned earlier.

Hannah: Here’s the secret to this dish, I think: it wasn’t little pieces of lobster mixed in some pasta. It was a hunk of lobster in its shell, with its little legs still attached (sorry lobby, thanks for your sacrifice), perfectly cooked on top of some crazy good pasta.

And yes, you had to dig that biz out.

Edward: Yeah, so it wasn’t all just a big bowl of food, but it was separate pasta and lobster that each had their own thing going on, and all tied together by that gravy.

Hannah: That gravy.

Edward: Remember the lobster bisque we had that other time? The gravy kind of reminded me of that.

Hannah: Yes.

We haven’t talked about the wine pairings, which were awesome, but none more than the upcoming dish: pollo al limone, paired with a rosé. Was a revelation!

Edward: Yeah, it was all right…WHAT IT WAS DELICIOUS

Hannah: The lemony chicken and preserved lemon slices and Niçoise olives…a wine needs to be able to stand up to that lemon! And I was surprised how perfectly that rosé balanced in my mouth.

Torinos B-day Pollo al Limone

Edward: That’s another one of those dishes where it’s not normally something I crave — a braised chicken — but it’s just so beautifully prepared that it’s totally not like what I expect and is completely delicious.

Hannah: Yes, although I’ve gotta say that the poor chicken had some hard acts to follow. It was lovely, but those pasta dishes….

Edward: Yes, the pasta dishes reigned supreme. BUT, this lemony chicken was great. I thought it might be super sour, but it really just was more like intense lemon essence, a little tangines, then you get the salty olives that balance it all out.

Hannah: And the meat was so moist.

Edward: Another great thing about that dish is that I thought we were done with the savory courses after the lobster pasta, so I was all sad, but then hey! Bonus dish!

Hannah: LOL

And last but not least:

only the best cake

what the hell

Edward: The

Best

Cake

Torinos B-day Cake

Hannah: I mean really. Maxime was standing behind me explaining all the parts of the cake to someone else

Edward: To: All Other Cakes

Subject: Bestness

You are #2 or lower.

Sincerely,

Torinoscake

Hannah: and I couldn’t even pay attention because my ears were…like…all parts of my head were focused on what was happening in my mouth. And I don’t even like strawberry stuff all that much.

Edward: Yeah, I know a food is really special when I find myself eating it in tiny little bites to make it last.

Hannah: Yeah.

Edward: Something about the textures, the subtle flavors…it was NOT too sweet. Most restaurant desserts are sugar bombs. This was really delicate and just a little sweet, so you could taste all the other flavors.

Hannah: Honey…. let’s wrap up. I’ll make my closing argument.

Edward: Proceed.

Hannah: If, person, you are in Albuquerque and haven’t yet gone to a special event at Torinos, then I contend you haven’t experienced it at its best. It is So. Fun.

The next one is in July. Watch for it.

I REST MY CASE.

Edward: Excellent.

I will comment briefly on your closing argument, then I will make my closing argument, then a brief side note.

Hannah: Tell us what you’ll tell us, tell us, tell us what you told us.

Edward: Correct.

Torinos B-day Maxime & Daniela

Edward: I agree with your statement. If you have not been to Torinos, I think the special dinners are a great way to get to know what Torinos offers — to get to know Daniela, Maxime, their food, the spirit of their hospitality. The wine flows, the atmosphere is relaxed and fun, and you leave feeling like you’ve had a real experience.

MY CLOSING ARGUMENT

When we lived in Las Vegas, our favorite restaurant was Rosemary’s. A fine dining restaurant, but with nothing snooty about it…they didn’t hit you over the head trying to impress you. They were just quietly awesome at what they did, and let the food and service speak for themselves. It was a neighborhood restaurant in a nondescript strip mall — not the trendiest or flashiest restaurant in Vegas by far, but one of the very best for people who love good food.

Torinos is like that for me. Seeing Daniela’s energy level and the work she puts into running the place makes me have to sit down and take a rest on her behalf. I have no idea what it is Chef Maxime does back there in the kitchen — some form of sorcery or dark magicks, I assume — but he puts food together in a way that takes me back to my childhood in Northern Italy…AND I AM NOT FROM NORTHERN ITALY.

I can’t put it better than Gil does in his tribute, so I’ll just point you there. All I can say is, here’s a place run by a passionate couple who take fierce pride in what they do, and have the talent and work ethic to justify that pride. It’s a place run by people, not some investment group, and you can feel their heart and soul in everything they do. I felt as welcome the first time I stepped through their doors as I did last night.

I’m definitely no culinary expert — just someone who lives for that special plate of food that causes me to make strange moaning and humming noises when I eat it. Food that is so good it actually makes me ANGRY for some reason. That’s what I get from Torinos and why I’m such a fan, and why I regularly encounter other people who are just as blown away. If I could afford it I would eat there almost every night. I say almost because sometimes I’ve gotta have the red chile.

The hyperbole and the evangelizing are just something that happens when you dine at Torinos and you’re the kind of person who can appreciate what you’re experiencing. I’m pretty sure every diner in the place last night was gushing as shamelessly as I am now over their meal and how fun the evening was, and that’s pretty cool.

END OF CLOSING ARGUMENT

Oh, my side note is that the dinner was a community table, and the courses were served family style. I have not been to a community table dinner before, so (as an introverted, quiet person) I had some trepidation, but it turned out to be loads of fun.

Our table companions were terrific company, and I think what made it so pleasant was that, even though we were all strangers, we had our love of Torinos in common. So it was kind of like a meeting of the Torinos Fan Club. “I don’t know you, but I recognize you as a member of my tribe.”

Hannah: Yes, exactly! Plus, our dining companions were very charming!

Edward: We tend to be shy with new people, so I’m glad our companions kept things interesting!

Oh, also: one topic of table conversation was that the beef cheeks rotolo should totally become a regular menu item. So let me put that out there and voice my FULL THROATED SUPPORT for that measure!

Hannah: Honey, I declare that Once Again….
you know….

Edward: WE HAVE EATEN WELL

Hannah: See ya next time!

Edward: TORINOSBLOG

Torinos B-day Candles

Torinos @ HOME

505.797.4491
7600 Jefferson St NE #21, Albuquerque, NM 87109
http://torinosfoods.com/
Menu

– UPDATED HOURS –

Lunch/Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday 11:00am – 9:00pm

Torinos' @ Home on Urbanspoon

[google-map-v3 width=”300″ height=”300″ zoom=”12″ maptype=”roadmap” mapalign=”center” directionhint=”false” language=”default” poweredby=”false” maptypecontrol=”true” pancontrol=”true” zoomcontrol=”true” scalecontrol=”true” streetviewcontrol=”true” scrollwheelcontrol=”false” draggable=”true” tiltfourtyfive=”false” addmarkermashupbubble=”false” addmarkermashupbubble=”false” addmarkerlist=”7600 Jefferson St NE #21 Albuquerque, NM 87109{}fastfood.png{}Torinos @ Home” bubbleautopan=”true” showbike=”false” showtraffic=”false” showpanoramio=”false”]

Notes:
1. Food I normally don’t even like tastes awesome when Maxime cooks it. If that is not sorcery I don’t know what is. The authorities should probably be contacted, but I won’t say anything if you don’t.
Food I normally don’t even like tastes awesome when Maxime cooks it. If that is not sorcery I don’t know what is. The authorities should probably be contacted, but I won’t say anything if you don’t.