Tuesday, April 20, 2010
bella brava, st. petersburg, march 18
so, i have been trying to write this post for more than a month now.
for my birthday, we went to bella brava, which is where my pal domenica macchia has been the chef since last fall. ever since she moved there, i have been plotting a night when pam and i went in, armed with becky and jeremy, and ordered a bunch of stuff so i could do a comprehensive post.
so on my birthday, we got becky and jeremy and went in, suspecting we were committing ourselves for the next several hours. dom knew we were coming in and we left it to her to decide what we were going to eat. as it turns out, just about everything on the menu.
here is where it got complicated for me to write about: everything was great. and i knew it was going to be. there was stuff i had had before, stuff i never had before, stuff that was on the menu, going on the menu soon, or just for us. we loved it all. so when i started to write about it, it all started seeming like a lifeless list of things we ate more than a description, and i felt like i wasn't doing it justice.
i can't be remotely objective when it comes to dom. i mean, you've read previous posts. i like just about everything. but the only way i can write anything worth reading is if i went in to the meal thinking that there was some chance i might not like it. i mean, i had concerns going into babbo. i suspected that i wouldn't find french laundry to be perfect. i was openly skeptical as to whether i would even like alinea. and those were three of the best meals i've ever had.
but i walked into bella brava knowing i would love whatever was about to happen. because i wasn't just going there for dinner. dinner was being made for me. for me.
dom refers to me as the brother she never had, and i love that. i have to be careful about reciprocating that sentiment because it would probably really piss off my sister. but you know what i mean.
so, in list form, here is what we had. everything was great, so i can dispense with individually nothing that everything was great.
-- roasted beet salad. sliced red and halved baby golden beets with a vinaigrette. everyone else got cauliflower on theirs, but i did not. because it was my birthday, she didn't even try to talk me into eating cauliflower. dom said after peeling the baby beets, she would only serve regular beets in the future. i understand. but they're so cute.
-- beef carpaccio. i had told dom that i never had carpaccio, so boom, there it was. thin slices of barely seared filet with parm, arugula, preserved lemon and fried capers.
-- two pizzas: the vegetali with roasted vegetables on it, and a sausage.
-- gorgonzola fonduta: a blue cheese sauce served with grilled bread for dipping. jeremy said he gets this whenever he comes in because he loves it so much, and after tasting it, said there was something different. he said it had a different alcohol taste. he told dom this, and she said she just got a different, better brand of sherry. this is why i hang out with jeremy bowers.
-- lamb porterhouse: tiny little grilled t-bones. she had just changed over to the spring sauce for them, a mint-pea pesto.
-- duck: always my menu fallback. love it. she has a cherry-port sauce.
-- roasted half chicken: the marsala-lemon jus was amazing.
-- crab cakes: they were huge. tiny would have been great at this point. no one could eat a whole one.
-- polenta and mashed potatoes
-- green beans and spinach
-- salmon fettucine: this was a sample of a new thing. not a big salmon fan, but am a big pasta fan. this was good.
after all that, as if we could still move, dom sent out a plate of all their desserts. the open-faced canoli is always a favorite. and the nutella cheesecake. and the chocolate torte. and the vanilla panna cotta. and a bunch of strawberries, to keep it healthy.
see, didn't that work better as a list?
all this to say, i highly recommend becoming best friends with dom and going to bella brava on your birthday.
ps: when we arranged to go in, i told dom that i would let her cook for me on my birthday only under the condition that she let me cook for her on hers. her birthday was a week after mine, but she was busy, then i was gone, but this is just to make it publicly official that it has to happen. and soon.