By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Carne miste e balsamico cipolline was a collection of pinched and folded lacy sheets of Italian meats, including prosciutto, coppacolla (dried salami), mortadella (a cooked pork sausage), bresaola (air-dried beef) and wild boar prosciutto. Each slice had fresh hints of sweetness and was brightly hued without any graying or slightly sour flavors that occur at times.
Silvery strips of fresh white marinated anchovy (alici con peperonata) were casually draped over roasted red peppers forming a mound that was ringed by a bead of greenish olive oil. The anchovies bristled with searing brininess, as if they were pickled (they were). The prickly dazzle of the fillets contrasted beautifully with the smooth, ghostly wisp of sweetness emanating from the peppers.
The deftness of Robbins' kitchen physics carried over to the entrées. Bistecca fiorentina is a bone-in New York steak sliced and pushed up against a clean sheaf of arugula dusted with cheese. The steak was juicy and bulged shamelessly with richness. The arugula was an effective counterpoint as the potent bitterness cut the fat on the palate.
4900 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75205
Region: Park Cities
Carne miste: $12 Tagliatelle gamberi: $19 Seared tuna: $22 Grilled calamari: $18 Grilled steak: $29 Anchovies: $8 Seafood salad: $9 Chilean sea bass: $24 Bucatini: $15 Panna cotta: $7
Eccolo specials whacked the socks off, too. A calamari ensemble of squid torso cones tattooed with grill marks and tossed atop a loose, moist heap of polenta was a simple ring of resounding flavor and tenderness. Another delicious rendition girded in polenta was a cube of rare seared yellow-fin tuna cluttered with pieces of goat cheese all lightly doused in red-wine basil vinaigrette.
Yet not everything came off with such ringing clarity. The insalata frutti di mare (le marche), a grilled seafood salad with limp arugula leaves in a moscato-olive oil dressing, was replete with mushy scallops and underdone shrimp. This detracted from the mussels, clams and a tangle of octopus tentacles that were perfectly prepared. Chilean sea bass sautéed with artichokes and stem-on caperberries in a white wine sauce with mascarpone had a sauce puddle that nearly overwhelmed the small section of fish topped with a fennel sprig. Instead of firm, moist and pliable, the fish was gelatinous and mushy, though the flavor resounded.
Bucatini with fresh fava beans recaptured the menu's high timber. The strands of bucatini pastas were perfectly cooked, and the bright green beans were tender and nutty. Scraps of pancetta and pecorino cheese kicked the grain and bean heartiness with a little sharp, salty nip, allowing the fiber to dance a little on the tongue.
Dessert finished with the sort of simple flavor meshings that make this menu work like a set of well-anointed gears. Panna cotta, a deliciously fresh, slightly sweet egg custard, was light and silky. It was drenched in fruit sauce and surrounded by strawberry slices, blueberries, raspberries and gooseberries. The edge of the plate was dusted with confectioners' sugar, which had caked from condensation, presumably. But this is a minor grievance.
Eccolo is a germinating sprout that, with the spark of Robbins' fertile brain plus a few minor tweaks, could emerge as a potent Italic force.