So the night after we ate at Pinchiorri, I noticed that there was a Michelin two star, Arnolfo, about 5 km from our hotel.
After a complicated reservation making process, we headed back to the hotel to change.
You aren’t really supposed to park in the old city walls, but we did anyway, and headed up to the restaurant. One odd thing about this place, is that you can’t open the door. You have to ring a buzzer, and the hostess comes up and lets you in.
I have to make note here that the guy who took our reservation came up with the most creative spelling for my last name that I have ever seen. Baber became Piler! Oh well, no harm no foul. We were seated as soon as this was figured out.
Now, this was much more like a regular restaurant than Pinchiorri, and because of that, it seemed almost pedestrian. There were 2 servers for 20 people, one sommelier, and the chef wandered around almost all night.
Again, we ordered the biggest tasting menu possible. (We decided not to repeat the last night’s charades and only ordered 2 bottles of wine.)
We started off with the now-familiar cycle of breads. The first set was good, small rolls with tomato, onion and garlic.
An amuse arrived quickly, the best of which being the goat cheese nibble, and the tuna tartare spoon. (I had been SERIOUSLY raw-fish deprived since I’ve been here, and it was a well needed hit for me.)
The next course is boggling me, I can’t remember what it was. It looks tomato-ey, but I can’t remember what it was. I don’t think we had gotten to the menu items yet. Oh well.
Then we started with the first menu item. This was really good. The shrimp was crusted with almonds, the eggplant terrine was delicious, and the tomato “paste” echoed the one at Pinchiorri. The other two tidbits on the plate were good, but not really memorable.
Two dishes then came at once. One, a hot tomato soup with a bit of fried basil and fish. This was very good. The other “soup” was actually more of a tomato jelly. Unexpected, but good as well. Very refreshing and both very tasty.
Now, I’ve had lasagna before. In fact, the lasagna that Donatella makes at the castle is my favorite lasagna in the world, especially the next day when you overcook it in the oven and the edges get all crispy…..but this wasn’t really lasagna. Even if it wasn’t what I was expecting, it was still good in it’s own right. The sauce was potato-saffron, and it was smooth and perfectly strong. It matched very well with the shrimp. There was a tempura fried zucchini blossom on the back side. This was the second or third tempura fried item we had seen so far, which we both thought was a bit odd, but they were all perfectly light and fried.
It really just isn’t fair to compare the lamb at Pinchiorri to the lamb at Arnolfo. Pinchiorri blew me away so much, that the lamb at Arnolfo almost tasted dull. It was clearly a properly prepared piece of meat, and everything worked well, but I just couldn’t get my mind off the previous night.
I actually really liked the cheese course at Arnolfo. For some reason, at Pinchiorri they had forgotten to give us the little marmalades and such with our cheeses, and we both forgot to ask. At Arnolfo, I got prune, honey, and other that I can’t recall. There was no cheese selection, it was just brought from the kitchen. I really liked the selection, mostly cow and sheep, but the softer cheeses were really excellent. In fact, it was so good that I totally forgot to take a picture till I was half done. I got distracted by the little dishes of honey and jams.
Some madman came flying into the restaurant and demolished my intermezzo before I got a chance to take a picture.
I was pretty pissed.
I was able to take a picture of the real dessert, though. There were mini-panna cottas, a mint sorbet, and a bunch of gooseberries(?). The berries were a bit too sour for my taste, but my dad scarfed em all down.
Afterwards came the mini-after-dessert-tidbit-tray. This is not something I should get used to. These things are really good.
I had talked with the chef a couple times during dinner, and he invited me into the kitchen after I had expressed interest in seeing the paco jet. It’s really a pretty cool piece of machinery. Its basically just a really fancy immersion blender thing. You put a cylinder of whatever you want blended, and an arm with a blade or whip or whatever you want, comes down and mixes it really fast. He says it makes great sorbet, and he let me try some freshly made peach. It really was quite fresh and light, moreso than regular sorbet.
I took a couple more pictures of the kitchen, talked with the chef for a bit, and headed back to our hotel.
It really was not fair to compare Arnolfo to Pinchiorri. They are in two completely different worlds. Here’s a fairly complicated analogy. Arnolfo is to airplanes as Pinchiorri is to space shuttles. Lets say that chefs like the one at Arnolfo are like pilots. Just about everybody flies on planes. Some are better than others, some are longer, and sometimes you fly first class. Pinchiorri is on a whole level entirely. Only really, really rich people can go up on space shuttles, and even then, they don’t do it often. The chefs have to train harder, longer, and often just have something inside them that just makes them one cut above the rest. But once you’ve seen space, it’s hard as hell to go back to just normal flying. (This is the extent of the analogy. The “traveling” part of flying doesn’t equate to eating. Blah blah blah)