I’m taking care of some friends’ dogs, a German Sheppard and Shiba Inu mix, whilst they are in Hawaii renewing their vows. As they are rambunctious 2 year old “puppies”, Fred’s and my monthly dinner needed to be close to home so they wouldn’t be left alone for too long. We chose to hit up Incontro Ristorante in Danville, CA because 1) I’ve wanted to try the place and 2) it was close to home. Spring has fully set in and it was a warm evening. We asked to be seated outside on the patio but it was full so we settled for a table inside next to a window so we could at least gaze upon the spring evening outside. The sunset soon turned to darkness. We didn’t notice as we were lost in conversation. For starters, we split an order of Arancini alla Siciliana: Rice balls stuffed with smoked mozzarella served with a simple tomato sauce. The rice balls had been rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried creating a crisp exterior and soft and gooey melted cheese interior. I’ve wanted to make these ever since I first had them on a recent trip to Italy. I still plan on making them at home but I am thinking that I will use regular mozzarella in the rice balls and roast the tomatoes on the smoker to give some smokiness to the sauce. For the salad course I ordered the Insalata di Cesare all’Incontro. The Cesare salad was served in a crostini boat with a Parmesan crisp: A great interpretation on an old classic.
Fred had the Insalata di Spinaci
Both entrees were great with the Cioppino being a modification of the San Francisco signature fish stew to include Orzo pasta. Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s by Portuguese and Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach section of San Francisco. Originally, it was made on the boats whilst out at sea and later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco. The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect of the port city of Genoa, meaning “to chop” or “chopped” which described the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the day’s catch. [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
Desserts at Incontro Ristorante were somewhat inconsistent. I ordered the Ravioli al Cioccolato: Dark and white chocolate “Pasta”, Varona chocolate ganache filling, strawberry sauce, mint and white chocolate shavings. I loved the concept: The strawberry sauce as the “tomato sauce”, mint as the “basil” and white chocolate shavings as the “Cheese”. It tasted great but the dark and white chocolate pasta had an unpleasant gummy texture that kind of ruined the dish for me. The waiter, upon learning of my dissatisfaction, quickly offered to replace the dish with another dessert of my choosing. I opted for the Torta al Limone con Noce di Cocco: Tart shell filled with Meyer lemon coconut custard with a mango and raspberry couli. Once again, great flavor but the tart shell was so hard that it shattered and flew across the table, with a shard of crust landing in Fred’s lap, when I tried to break through it with my fork. Fred’s Panettone Bread Pudding, however, was excellent.
455 Hartz Avenue, Danville, CA