by Timothy G. Beeman II
On Sunday, January 17, 2016, Stephanie and I, along with our dear friends, Paul and Susan Jones, attended the January Edition of DiLisio’s Wine Dinner Series. It was a Five-Course event complete with French and Californian wines. The restaurant was completely packed full of lovers of delicious foods and beverages. There was plenty of time to converse with the new friends that were seated around you in this “family style” dinner format. I’m going to include a description and pictures of the event.
First Course: Roasted Mission Figs with Gorgonzola and Bacon accompanied by Fennel Blood Oranges
I’ve never really been a fan of figs, but this was delicious. The figs were earthy and creamy but still firm. The flavors of fennel and blood oranges, along with the figs were brought to the front with the salty bacon. I have to admit, though, I didn’t taste a lot of the Gorgonzola, which I really hoped to catch more of. However, it was a good mix of sweet and savory. It was paired with a Bouvel Brut from Loire Valley. Nice bubbly with plenty of fruit flavor.
Second Course: Macco di Fave with Cauliflower Crostini
Less of a soup but more of a puree. Two different kinds of fave beans with crushed cauliflower and crunchy bread. It was warm throughout and while I generally don’t eat crunchy bread but when left in the warmth it softened and was flavored quite well. A great dish. It was paired with the Terra d’Oro Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend from Clarksburg.
Third Course: Scottish Salmon served with a Carrot Mint Puree, Brussels Sprout Petals and White Chocolate drizzle
This is by far the most beautiful of the dishes on the night’s menu. Also included is nuts and raisins. The white chocolate really set the flavor of the salmon alight and the carrot mint puree was exquisite. A nice touch was the edible orchids, which, on my plate, were gone immediately as I am a fan. The Brussels Sprouts petals were very light and not popping with flavor, which I think was the point. The raisins and nuts brought a chewy and crunchy aspect to the dish that, while I normally am not a fan of nuts in softer foods, I thought were a welcome unexpectedness. It was asked of Tony DiLisio at least twice for that to be on the regular menu. It was paired with Row 11 Vinas 3 Pinot Noir from California. And contrary to the commercial Pinot Noir does not mean “peanut of the night.” A tasty fruit-forward red that polished the salmon and white chocolate, perfectly.
Fourth Course: Lamb Chop over Wild Mushrooms, Grilled Polenta and Spinach with a Pomegranate Balsamic Glaze
This. This was the dish of the evening. The lamb chop was a fantastic and luscious piece of meat and the pomegranate balsamic glaze was a magnificent marriage of the sweet and savory. Perfectly prepared meat over a polenta cake which was crisp on the outside and creamy inside. This with the spinach and mushroom medley, the flavors were immaculate. This was being asked, more than any other dish, about its potential for being a permanent fixture. Tony explained to me that the lamb takes so long to make that it would probably be best as a special and not as much a full-time entree. This wonderful dish was paired with Domaine Galevan “Le Puy Saint Martin” from Vaucluse. Another red, which made the pomegranate sauce pop and the flavorful juices from the meat even more intense. Deliciously so.
Fifth Course: Espresso Mousse with Pistachio Shavings
Served in a coffee cup, this foamy, whipped wonder was topped with a collection of crushed pistachio and two coffee beans. A dessert that was rich and creamy that was plenty on the java essence and abundant. This finisher was the brilliant conclusion of a most excellent evening. Paired with Beran Zinfandel from California, a which, to me, had a slight vanilla hint made the chocolate and coffee hints of the mousse stand out even more. Other than the absolute-must of lemon sorbet, this would be the second best dessert that I’ve ever had at DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant. If you see it on the menu, you must try it.
As always, my wife and I left happy, satisfied and a belly full of wine. DiLisio’s Restaurant and their kitchen staff as well as (and especially) their wait staff did a superb job of keeping our drinks full and our plates fresh or freshly removed. They were always good with a quick poke or rib with me and seemed to do a good job with everyone else as well. Taking care of forty plus ingesting and imbibing customers isn’t always easy but Jillian, Stacy, Caroline, Debra and Hailey did a fantastic job keeping us all in perfect order.
Tony and Maria DiLisio, as always bring some the best and freshest Italian food you’re going to have in our fair city. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you never try DiLisio’s Restaurant. They’re open every day but Monday and you can find them at 301 Brookstown Ave., Suite 100 and on the web. Thank you Tony and Maria for throwing a heck of a soiree.