Eastside Road, Healdsburg, February 21, 2009
DOWN IN OAKLAND to hear a concert and needing a quick early dinner we remembered this restaurant, very recently opened and well recommended. Tiny; popular. We sat at the bar; the line is just beyond. It reminded me of eating at the counter at Vanessi's, all those years ago.
The first thing we noticed was the grissini, not at all Piemontese but utterly delicious of flour, salt, and sage. Surely we are in southern Italy. We ordered identically: a salad of nothing but small-leaf arugula dressed with oil, lemon juice, salt, and delicious pine nuts, so delicious that I asked the maître d' where they came from. M.d' asked Chef, who was standing not six feet from me supervising the rush of orders from the line, and he rolled his eyes, said he didn't know, they got them from a distributor, Italfoods.
I see on the Italfoods website the pine nuts are in fact Chinese. Hmmm: they sure are better than they used to be. Still.
On, then, to the plat principal, as we say in Italy: Alaska cod, "pan roasted," served in acqua pazza brodo and flavored with crushed corona beans, wild arugula, agrodolce, and toasted almonds. I glanced at Chef, who was sneaking a look to see what we thought, and gave him two thumbs up.
Ansonica/catarratto, Donnafugata (Sicilia), 2007