Saturday, August 4, 2012

dineLA Summer 2012: Truffle Heaven at Piccolo Venice

Another favorite from this year's Summer edition of dineLA for me was Piccolo Venice.  The place is a bit of a hidden gem - so glad I dineLA drew me to this discovery! The offer was generous with 5-courses (versus the standard 3) at no extra cost, for the $45 prix fixe menu and TWO of those courses involved choices with the magic-Pavlovian word: "truffles".

If you are kind enough to follow me on Instagram, you saw lots of pictures of this meal tagged with #foodgasm.  Even the complimentary bread basket featured foccacia studded with truffle.  I got food-drunk with happiness with every fragrant bite.

(One quick note though on location: Piccolo sits on a lesser-trafficked street (Dudley) directly off the Venice boardwalk: a little hard to spot driving through the alley even with the GPS, and despite parking being in general quite difficult in Venice, the restaurant did not have valet. I parked a few blocks down at a flat rate lot on Speedway, and passed the usual 'Venice' crowd along the way - kind of not the best spot for date night or single ladies to get to at night.  Once I got there it was a lovely, bright, airy white-linened place, with a cozy fireplace on one side, that could just as easily have been in Santa Monica or Beverly/Third)

But the food and hospitality, they were quite impressive.  Course 1: Capesante seared sea scallops, parmesan truffle fondue ($17 on regular menu) - a beautifully seared scallop topped with shaved truffle, and that was not enough, they also had truffle in this parmesan cheese sauce on the side.  Gorgeous presentation as well!
Course 2: Neri squid ink spaghettini, lobster emulsion, sunchokes ragu, roasted garlic oil, thyme (next closest pasta dish on regular menu served with mantis shrimp vs lobster, $26) - loved the perfectly al dente squid ink spaghettini.  Generous pieces of lobster added pops of red/pink that provided beautiful contrast against the stark pasta. I found the lobster pieces a bit overcooked, unfortunately, and wanting a bit more flavor.

Course 3: Plin fontina filled handcrafted ravioli, parmesan truffle butter sauce, fresh truffle shavings (next closest dish on regular menu is beet filled ravioli, $23) - LOVED every bite of this.  It had me at 'truffle', but the ravioli more than held its own as well - you can taste that the ravioli is fresh made, and were served at just the right density and temperature. 
Course 4: Much as I am obsessed with love truffle, the course that was most mindblowing of this dineLA meal was the Germano Reale breast of mallard (wild duck) pan-seared, truffle-honey sauce ($34 on regular menu) - the duck was incredibly tender, juicy and flavorful in the all-tastebuds-awake way that I can only compare to your first taste of grass-fed beef, and the realization that it is not-even-in-the-same-league more delicious than the common grain-fed beef. Loved that it wasn't served with the usual mashed potato either - but paired with a gorgeously purple whipped ube.  Then to kick this dish up to absolute transcendence, a translucent golden halo of truffle honey. Fragrant, earthy yet light and ever so slightly sweet - a perfect element to counterbalance the rich hefty slices of duck.
Course 5: Tortino ricotta and mascarpone torte, saffron coulis (not on regular menu, but desserts standard price $9) - where most other dineLA venues were half-heartedly phoning in some kind of chocolate dessert, Piccolo actually had six pretty exciting sounding ones to choose from.  My friendly server suggested the Tortino as the more unusual of the bunch.  I do love mascarpone, and saffron, so that sounded good to me.  This turned out to be a lite, perfect portioned cake topped with rose-colored flower petals, and saffron sauce.  The flavors were very subtle, and after four filling courses it was nice to have that light sweet finish. 
If that were 'all' for the dineLA meal I already would have loved it as possibly one of the best deals if not the best deal on the list (could have been a savings of up to $65, with the disclaimer that I"m not sure of any differences in portion size of dineLA vs. regular menu as it was my first time checking out the place.  Also of course a few of the items are not on the regular menu in its exact form so hard to draw exact comparisan).  But Piccolo is big on hospitality, and to top off my meal, came a free glass of prosecco!

All in all, a lovely dineLA experience.  Next time I'm down in Venice I would definitely hit up Piccolo for dinner!

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 5.5 bites
Ambience - 5.5 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$ (2 bite marks regular menu)
Probability of return visit - 90% 


Piccolo Venice  

5 Dudley Avenue, Venice, CA 90291
Ph: 310.314.3222

Parking: Flat fee lot a few blocks down on Speedway $10 (street parking very hard to come by in this area)

Piccolo Venice on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Piccolo is one of my favs! FYI...The portions for dineLA were half the size of the regular portions



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