Monday, May 23, 2011

a Mano

A Mano
870 Tchoupitoulas
New Orleans

Dinner 6 PM - 10 PM

This Italian in the warehouse district is the brain child of Adolfo Garcia of Rio Mar and La Boca fame. He sent Joshua Smith off to Italy for a year to soak in the Italian philosophy and style of cooking. Much of the menu is made in-house and all items that can be sourced locally are. This is a trend prevalent in a lot of higher end and chef driven operations. The bread basket contained an in-house sun-dried tomato Italian round loaf. You could taste the long fermentation and the sweet-sour of the dried tomatoes. I went with Affettats Misti Board which had a range of house cured meats and pickles. You can see the glass door to the curing room from the dining room. I received Mortadella studded with pistachios. Good but lacking the pieces of fat that I love. Beside it was hard salami and spicy salami bracketing a double well dish of caponta and pickled vegetables. Slices of dried duck breast and smoked prosciutto came next. The fun in tasting these things is combining the stuff in different ways. My favorite was the duck breast.

Second course was Trippa alla Romani. Honeycomb tripe cooked in the roman style with tomatoes, onions, chile, and pecorino cheese with bread toast. Well cleaned and well cooked it just melted on the tongue in a spicy sauce. I savored every bite. Next up pasta prepared as it should be. Pici al’Aglise is a hand rolled round pasta with a notch running down the length cooked in olive oil, chiles, parsley and breadcrumbs. My favorite way to eat pasta, simple and flavorful

The main course Conlglio della Cava was rabbit from Mississippi cooked two ways. One was leg quarter roasted with cured olives, garlic and lemon. It tasted wonderful but a bit dry. The other was pounded and crusted white meat pan seared then finished off with lemon juice, wine, capers and marinated artichoke hearts. It proved wonderfully tender and delicious with a nice crisp crust and melting meat inside

I ended with Panna Cotta (non-egg custard) with pan sautéed pine nuts and bitter Sicilian honey surrounded with figs. All components worked except the figs that were under ripe. The creamy custard and crunchy pine nuts provide textural contrast while sweet cream and bitter played the flavor note, I would return here if they have solved their handicap access problem. The current solution is no solution.

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