Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trattoria Tosca's Ultimate Comfort Pasta

I might have just consumed the most decadent pasta of my life at Trattoria Tosca.

I'd been awaiting the development of something in the under-utilized Turtle Bread space in Linden Hills for quite some time, and thankfully, that wish came true a few months ago. Trattoria Tosca specializes in seasonal fare, and this gloomy spell had me craving something warm and comforting, which lands squarely in the pasta category.

I didn't hold much hope for the actual space, since Turtle Bread seems to be a jumbled bi-polar mess that almost resembles a retail area. They crank out some nice breads and baked goods, but it's not exactly an area I'd like to spend a lot of time in. Tosca is quite different. Dark wood meets sponge painted earth tone walls with little to no adoration. The space is incredibly simple, but at least it has focus. The restaurant was at about 60% capacity, but the sound level was near uncomfortable.

Tosca's menu is relatively limited, but I found several options that made the ultimate decision very difficult. I narrowed it down to the pheasant, the bucatini with rosemary, tomato, breadcrumbs and chili flakes, and what sounded like the ultimate fettuccini. The menu description included roasted cauliflower, Fischer bacon, herbs, grana padano and egg yolk. It sounded like the definition of comfort, and the perfect meal to consume in preparation for hibernation. It was a done deal.

Tosca offers their primi courses in two sizes and I ordered the large as an entree, because I knew I wouldn't be satisfied with just a few bites. When the fettuccini arrived, I was blown away by the execution. The delicately cooked pasta enjoyed little bits of roasted cauliflower and big meaty chunks of bacon intermixed throughout the base of the dish, while the crown of the fettuccini was lightly adorned with fine herbs, rustic grana padano, and three perfectly separated decadent egg yolks. A quick mix with my fork produced a silken and incredibly lush sauce.

This dish is not for the light eater, or health obsessed - it's full on gluttony. The roasted cauliflower had a nice caramelized exterior that provided a bit of crunch and a gentle sweetness to the dish. The thick lardon-like bacon supported an intense amount of salt and smoke that proved a perfect companion for the robust and nutty grana padano. Lastly, those three perfect yolks provided a superb richness to the dish that just could not be surpassed with cream and/or butter alone. Taking on this dish is no small order, and like any good pain killer, I wouldn't encourage operating heavy machinery soon after. My only wish was that maybe they dialed it back to just two yolks, because the dish is so rich that it becomes a little daunting and starts to lose some of its balance.

This was the sort of meal that will keep me warm as we climb deep into the winter months, and if the dish stays on the menu (which any one dish outside of the bucatini rarely does) it may almost make the deep chill of February tolerable.

Happy Eating,



kat said...

I totally forgot about this place opening. Now that is really bring on the carbs weather we have to go check it out

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