Chef Jonathon Sawyer has been a great friend to New Albion and my father Jack for some time–not only did he create amazing vinegars with the Sierra Nevada’s Jack & Ken’s Ale back in 2010, but he also threw a little party around the Boston Beer New Albion release at his Greenhouse Tavern back in 2013.
Chef Sawyer’s latest venture, Trentina, is a Northern Italian-inspired restaurant, located in Cleveland’s University Circle area, a stone’s throw from Little Italy, and convenient to the city’s wonderful museums and arts district. It has been open for dinner since July, and I was invited to attend a lunch for local bloggers, highlighting the new lunchtime menu, which begins on Tuesday, September 9th. My daughter accompanied me, just before leaving for college this fall–it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon with her. A Food Network fan, Ali enjoyed stretching her palate far from her more usual college fare.
Chef Sawyer and his Executive Chef Matt Danko have put together an interesting and inspiring menu, full of local ingredients, showcasing Northern Italy’s heritage, which just happens to be my heritage on my birthmother’s side–my grandfather William Pellini hailed from Lake Como, Italy. I was intrigued, and not disappointed.
We began with oysters on the half shell with Prosecco mignonette and apple–our waiter let us know the oysters were from Cape Cod, not far from where Ali is attending college in Boston, so it seemed fitting. They were cold, briney and wonderful, the chopped apple a perfect accompaniment.
Our first course was wood-fired broccoli, which came served on a plate painted with eggplant sauce, anchovies, crab apples and parsley. It was a work of art to look at, and delicious to eat. Another colorful dish arrived at the same time (we shared of course!), a shaved zucchini salad with local tomatoes, dressed with a soft-cooked egg. It was forkful after forkful of amazing flavor.
What would an Italian restaurant be without pasta? Again, Trentina doesn’t disappoint. I was served cavatappi and cheese–a Trentino style mac-n-cheese, with a heavenly sauce over the swirls of noodles, accompanied by roasted onion and new potato. I ate it so quickly, I forgot to get a photo of it. My daughter’s “Chopped” sensibilities said the pasta could have been cooked a little longer, and I have to agree, it was not quite al dente. But it was still something I would order again.
Our next course was a homemade porchetta, a savory, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition, breaded and fried, almost like a bologna. It was served with house-made sauerkraut, fennel, and moustarda. We found it rich and satisfying.
Already starting to feel full, I was relieved that the next course was dessert. It was light and the perfect last bite: an olive oil gelato and “Grandma’s cookie,” which was dusted with a bit of cinnamon sugar and reminded me quite a bit of a thin biscotti. The candied strips of orange peel were a welcome bit of sweetness. All in all, a very tasty meal–but just a sample of some of the interesting items on Trentina’s full lunchtime menu. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to try it for yourself. And here’s your chance!
Now to the best part of my post for you, dear reader. Please leave a comment here to be entered to win a $25 gift card to enjoy on a visit Trentina yourself. Please only enter if you are planning to use it, it’s too good to go to waste!
I will use a random number generator to select my winner this Friday, September 5, 2014 at noon EST. I will contact the winner to ask for your address to mail out the gift card.
Congratulations to Chef Sawyer and his team on a wonderful new culinary venture that once again makes Cleveland an amazing restaurant town! Ciao!