Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cena a Milano (or...Dinner at Milan)

by Erin and Xani

Last week, immediately after finishing a (hopefully) winning proposal at work, we crossed town to have dinner in Little Italy at a new, very chic spot called Milan. Our friend Amy (of Profiles, Inc.) had invited us to try this new restaurant** and as usual, greeted us at the door with a smile and lots of guidance on what to order!

First we received a tour of the incredible space, which felt cozy due to dark wood floor and dimmed lighting, but still chic and modern with walls made of glass beads, plus cool chandeliers, huge windows looking out onto Little Italy, and the best part: a private lounge comprised of several rooms with low white couches, flat screen TVs, and arched doorways. This lounge would be perfect for a birthday celebration!

We were seated in the upstairs dining area along with fellow Bmore food bloggers Kit, Liz, and Jessica (great to see you, girls!), and after chatting with Amy for a bit about her recommendations, we studied the menu. While perusing and chatting, we enjoyed a glass of rose prosecco, which was excellent and full-bodied (sometimes they are really sharp and/or sweet, this one was lovely). We also nibbled on some bread and tapenade, but we wanted to save room for the many courses that lay ahead.

Cheers to finishing the proposal! Go team!

We were eager to try a variety of the large menu, including the "Sushi Italiano," which is crudo (raw fish), usually paired with some sort of italian flair such as pesto, olive oil, or a lemon aioli, for instance. For our first course, we enjoyed the 6-fish crudo plate, which featured salmon with lemon caper aioli, hiramasa with a blood orange balsamic glaze, arctic char with a basil pesto, hamachi (yellowtail) with roasted red pepper puree, yellowfin tuna with red pepper oil and sea salt and white tuna with lemon oil and pine nuts.

As if we couldn't eat more raw fish, we also ordered a barely-seared tuna dish that had olive oil, capers, and a yummy micro-green salad topped with our favorite: white anchovies! All of the fish was incredibly fresh and each of their accompaniments went well with the flavor of the raw fish.

For our second course, we tried two of the small plates (mezze) and one salad. The first small plate we tried were the lamb lollipops, which were perfectly cooked (medium rare) grilled baby lamb chops served with a creamy lemon-rosemary aioli.

Next, we ordered something that was one of our favorites of the night: vegetarian meatballs (called Ortaggio Mondeghili). They were made of eggplant, portobello mushrooms, and other veggies, and probably bound together with eggs and maybe breadcrumbs, then served with a delicious pomodoro sauce. It tasted like eggplant parm but in mini, meatball form! So good, we could have eaten a whole big plate of these.

The third member of our second course was the Deviled Caesar Salad, which included a spiced up caesar dressing, white anchovies (again! we love it!), and a very delicious deviled egg on the side. Since it wasn't a classic caesar salad, we will refrain from comparing it to BCD Mom's so we can remain on everyone's good sides :)

Okay, next course was the main course. We got the cioppino (spicy, tomato-based stew with lots of shellfish) and the NY strip, which was served with lobster butter, sauteed spinach, and lobster mashed potatoes. The cioppino was very tasty and had so much delicious seafood in it, including mussels (and the largest mussel we've EVER seen) and head-on shrimp. It was served with a garlicky parmesan bread to soak up the tomato broth - superb!

Largest mussel ever in the left forefront; see regular mussel to the right

The NY strip was, again, perfectly cooked to medium rare and the bits of lobster on top didn't hurt either! The sauteed spinach was a surprising highlight of the dish - it was very garlicky and barely wilted and added some freshness to the decadent plate. The mashed potatoes were the low point of the dish, unfortunately - while they were very creamy, they didn't really taste like lobster, and they were at room temperature, not hot. The spinach and the meat, however, were very strong so the dish was still very enjoyable.

Finally, we enjoyed a little dessert and of course, coffee. People always ask us how we can drink coffee (or espresso, if you're Xani) at the end of the night, but amazingly, it doesn't keep us up! Plus, it's a digestif and it allows you to reflect on the meal before heading home. I love a cup of coffee at the end of a great meal...mmm coffee...

Anyway, for dessert we chose the ricotta cheesecake with a strawberry-balsamic glaze and candied rosemary. The cheesecake was really good - creamy, rich, and a nice thick graham cracker crust on the bottom. The balsamic glaze was unique and added sweetness and tartness to the creamy cake. The rosemary was pretty but not really edible.

What a meal! We teetered back to our car (conveniently parked in the parking garage right next to the restaurant - that is some prime real estate, Milan!), crossed the city back to Federal Hill, and fell asleep with visions of veggie meatballs dancing in our heads.

Thanks, Amy, for inviting us to Milan for a great meal, and for introducing us to the chef and owner. Next time we'll check out the downstairs bar area and try one of the fancy cocktails, and we also need to try the pasta, risotto, and flatbreads - they looked amazing but we couldn't order everything, could we??

Buon appetito,
EP & X

**In compliance FTC Guidelines at 16 CFR Part 255, we hereby disclose that we received our meal free of charge (though we did provide a generous gratuity, obvi). First Amendment? What's that? I'm not familiar.

Blog Archive