02 October 2012
Greeley, CO has a new restaurant (don't go).
Some lovely friends joined us for a meal at the newest restaurant in town, Pellegrini. It's run by a native Italian who has successfully been at the helm of the Italian restaurant in Fort Morgan for a decade. Unfortunately, all four of us know how to cook something beyond instant ramen, and so we knew what went wrong.
The wine was not bad. Remind me to mention that again. Although it is not difficult to find decent red wine with an Italian name, they deserve credit for that, at least. In fact, the house chianti in a carafe (though it only serves 3 glasses) is perfectly pleasant.
Pizza: the crust is thin and puffy, and quite crisp. It was nice. But the pizza we got was not cooked beyond the crust: raw cheese, arugula, and cherry tomato halves were haphazardly tossed on top, making it difficult to eat and disconcertingly incoherent.
Risotto: the butternut squash and scallop had the cutest scallops! They were like little dwarves. But the flavor was missing entirely, and the texture was strangely watery yet dry. Don't get this.
Pasta dishes: the amatriciana sauce with prosciutto was pleasantly smoky, and the chardonnay-cream sauce with shrimp was pleasantly garlicky and comforting (aren't all cream sauces comforting yet a bit monotonous by the end?). The problem was the pasta itself. It was overdone, yielding a gluey, gloppy mess that sticks in the teeth and distracts from the otherwise well-made sauces. I wondered if these dishes would have been better if we had made a big show of requesting al dente (and isn't that assumed?). In Italy, it's before al dente, which is just right.
Extras: the side salad is bagged salad with no chopped vegetables and no dressing. They provide balsamic and olive oil on the table, which is probably better than they would do with a dressing, but the instructions to "do it like in Italy" with vinegar, then oil and salt on top" is hardly authentic advice (well, I guess I don't know what they do in Sardinia). The crusty white bread they brought to the table was warm and well-made; the olive oil with freeze-dried garlic sprinkled on top was not.
Dessert: we opted for booze. The port is smooth and clean, the limoncello a bit on the chemical side.
It will come as no surprise that Greeley struck out again. If you live in the area and haven't learned how to cook a basic risotto and a simple pasta dish you like, you really should.
Oh right, the wine was fine.