Yesterday was my 28th birthday. I slaved away at work all day, but I afterwards I was able to relax at home until Frank got off work. When he arrived, he gave me a big kiss and handed me his suit jacket. Inside was my gift, a pizzelle maker. We got ready for dinner and headed over to the Palazzo. We had a 7 o'clock reservation at Carnevino. They took a minute to prepare the table and then they seated us. The dining area isn't very large, but tables are spaced apart nicely. I really liked that we had personal space, especially since so many restaurants, now, seem to pack in as many tables as possible.
We each ordered an iced tea, and then rosemary focaccia drizzled in olive oil was brought to the table along side butter and lardo. Our waiter forewarned us that the lardo might be a bit salty, but he encouraged us to try it. Next, an amuse bouche of parmesan and gorgonzola cheese puffs were delivered and our waiter answered our questions and shared the specials.
We decided to sample a few dishes and share everything. First, we tried the puffs. Those were better suited for the saltiness warning than the lardo. Then, we snacked on the delicious bread and lardo while we waited for our Caesar salad. Our Caesar was a mix of endive, radicchio, and romaine. It was topped with anchovies and crouton toast. Most restaurants will split a salad for us, but here we were only brought an extra plate. The dressing wasn't too notable, the romaine was wilted and the addition of the endive and radicchio wasn't well received. Neither of us liked the salad much, we hoped it would be the only weak link of the meal.
After a short wait, our entrees and sides were delivered. We had orecchiette with sweet sausage and broccoli rabe. The pasta was delicious, but the sausage was more salty than sweet. The ricotta and egg raviolo in brown butter was singular, the yolk ran out when it was cut into. It reminded me of a sunny side egg wrapped in a crepe. It was alright, but $19 seemed a bit extreme for this dish. We teased that the egg had better be free range and organic. The filet was cooked to perfection, it was very tender and flavorful. Although, the crust was too salty for our taste. We've had better steaks, but the filet was the highlight of this meal.
This was my first encounter with zeppole. It wasn't what I expected. After the first one, I referred to these as carnival potatoes. My thought is that each zeppole has three layers: the salt, much like what you'd find on a soft pretzel; fried dough, like an elephant ear; and the inside is reminiscent of mashed potatoes. I felt the saltiness and fried taste overpowered any hint of parmesan or potato.
The artichokes were grilled and drizzled with olive oil and topped with lime. The lime was much too strong on the pieces at the top. The artichoke at toward the bottom of the dish had only a hint of lime and it was more to our liking.
Dessert was offered, but we passed. A complimentary bite of an Italian energy bar was delivered along with the check. It was nutty with carmel and a strong taste of what I believed to be anise.
Our bill came to $126. Service throughout the meal was good and well timed. Howbeit, when the reservation was made, it was noted that this was a birthday celebration, but it was not recognized during our meal. While that's not pivotal, other restaurants we've dined have gone out of their way to make the experience special. Overall, we weren't too pleased by the food. As you might of guessed, it was just too salty for our liking.
After dinner, we walked over to illy Cafe for an espresso and mint chocolate chip gelato. Then, we drove over to Bellagio. We checked out the new spring exhibit in the conservatory. It's very pretty and it's different than previous years (I'll go back and snap some photos to share). We watched a few fountain shows; we saw all of our favorites, so that really made my night.
All in all, it was a great birthday.