Diners begin the meal with selections from the Bread, Cheese & Salumi menu, including homemade English muffins with rosemary, sea salt, and cultured housemade butter. Chicken Liver Toast is served with guanciale and pickled cherries that the chefs preserved themselves during cherry season. The Kitchen Love charcuterie board presents a variety of meats and cheeses with house jam, pickles, and toast.
Guests love the wood-fired pizzas, including the Roasted Mushroom pie and the unusual Duck Egg pie, served with panna, potato, pancetta, rosemary, parmesan, and mozzarella. The server breaks the egg yolk over the pizza to create a yummy, runny blend of flavors. Even the simple Tomato Pie’s flavors make an impression on the taste buds.
If dining tastes runs to the unusual, something from the Odds & Ends menu will suit. Corned Lamb Tongue Panini and the Mortadella “Hot Dog,” a gourmet hot dog on a grilled brioche roll and topped with house relish and mustard, are excellent. The chef even makes an entire Roasted Glazed Pig Head, which makes quite a stir when it is served.
The Small Plates menu includes Whipped Sheep’s Milk Ricotta with the superbly complementary flavors of roasted butternut squash, pomegranate and seeded toast. Pasta fans enjoy the house made pasta, including a Potato Gnocchi with prosciutto, mushrooms and wild arugula that melts in the mouth.
Italian wines, including Italian varietals produced in California, are included in a wine list designed to bring out the flavors of the food. Craft cocktails are noted by patrons to be interesting and strong, and are created by consulting bartender Vincenzo Marianello (Copa d’Oro). Lady in the Ballroom includes grapefruit vodka, bell pepper, mint, St. Germain, and lemon juice; the Jimmy Conway is a rye whisky and bitters concoction. A house made limoncello from the Gabriele family’s recipe rounds out the alcoholic drink selections.
The restaurant vibe is energetic and often noisy. A common table creates a place for locals to catch up, and the chef table is a prime front seat location to view the busy open kitchen, including the wood burning oven. The steel “love” sign by the back entrance is adorned with empty salt shakers, while the granite bar and paneled poplar walls give the hip space a sleek look.