Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cella Bistro

I've been wanting to get to Cella Bistro for a long, long time.  A recent post on Table Hopping finally made it impossible to not go - open Sunday + 3 courses for $30 = I'm there.  We made a 5:30 reservations and relied on Google maps to get us there, which fortunately worked.  When we arrived, we loitered by the bar area for a few minutes until we were warmly greeted by the apparently sole front of the house employee, Hanna.  She invited us to sit where ever we wanted and brought us menus and water in no time.  The Sunday menu options are limited: only 3 starters, 2 entrees and 2 desserts from which to choose.  Good, I say.  I'm tired of overwhelmingly long menus with far too many choices.  Remember?  I'm suffering from an inability to make choices these days. 
Artichoke deliciousness

We went with a garlicky bean and greens soup and a gorgeous herb and bread crumb stuffed artichoke.  The soup was light, filled with intense garlic flavor and still firm greens - delicious.  The artichoke is something I've always wanted to make but have been too lazy to deal with - tamping the breadcrumb mixture between the leaves just seems to me like something I don't have the time or patience to deal with - kind of like making pie crust or working with phyllo dough.  The artichoke was wonderful - it really set the tone for a homemade tasting Italian meal.  The leaves were tender and there was a small puddle of butter to drag each one through prior to scraping the yummy flesh off between my teeth.

Cavatelli with broccolini
We selected one of each of the two entree options - the eggplant served with pasta on the side and the Sunday gravy with bucatini on the side.  I am a fan of eggplant and the towering portion I received did not disappoint.  The proportion of eggplant to cheese to sauce was spot on and I also really appreciated that eggplant was cooked with respect - it wasn't mushy or crunchy, just perfection.  The cavatelli was lightly coated with garlic and olive oil and accompanied by broccolini.  My only complaint is that I wished for more broccolini - not a huge problem because the portion was literally enough for 3 meals and I was able to add some of my own greens to the leftover pasta during a subsequent meal. 


The Sunday gravy was ridiculous - it totally reminded me of when I dated that (fairly)nice Italian guy many, many years ago and we were expected at Sunday dinner every week where a very similar meal was served.  As was the case with my entree, this meal demanded 2 bowls to contain its goodness.  The first bowl was a couple of meatballs, a couple of sausages, a beef rib (still on the bone) and braciole.  On the side, in its own bowl, was a mound of bucatini, which, if you're not familiar, is a thick, long pasta, kind of a fat spaghetti.  Or, what I'd look like if I had attempted to eat even half of what had been placed in front of me, without the long part, of course.  Sundays, for me, are a day of enjoying family, slowing down, relaxing, and this meal epitomized those desired feelings perfectly in a bowl.  The beef was tenderly falling off the bone, the meatballs were tender, the sausage flavorful and firm.  The braciole was a little different than the one I get regularly at Lupa, but that is by no means a complaint, merely an observation.  There were no criticisms at all about these meals - fantastic flavor, abundant portions, quality ingredients, thoughtful service - the full package.

For dessert we had a trifle and a hunk of tiramisu.  Both were fairly light since the foundational ingredients to both were feather weight sponge-type cake, one being an angel food and the other lady's fingers.  There was a certainty density from the marscapone and cream, but still, these were lovely finales to a worth-waiting-for dining experience.  And - what a value.  Dinner for 2, which essentially translated to 6 meals, with a perfect bottle of Italian red and a fat tip came to $125. 

1 comment:

  1. my friend made stuffed artichokes with sage stuffing from a box the other day and I think it simplified the process a lot if that's any help!