Wednesday, April 20, 2011

LA: Tanino Ristorante

Friday evening's dinner with the other prospectives and some current students took place at Tanino Ristorante, a beautiful and rather romantic establishment in Westwood.  (Judging by the number of couples who were seated in the main restaurant area by the time my group headed out, Tanino is one of the date-night restaurants of choice in this neighborhood).  Our large group took up two big tables in the private dining area, which is upstairs.

We had a prix fixe menu and began with a salad of greens, roasted tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette, and shaved parmesan.  This salad was evenly dressed, with a moderate amount of cheese, and thus made for a comfortable starter.

For entrees, we had a choice of a pasta combination, salmon, or chicken.  I chose the pasta, which consisted of three different preparations: mushroom risotto, gnocchi in tomato-basil sauce, and pumpkin ravioli in a sage cream sauce.  The pumpkin ravioli were the clear winner, with wonderfully tender spinach pasta, a precise balance between the pumpkin's sweetness and the cream sauce, and a very pretty appearance.  Risotto has never been among my favorite Italian dishes (unfortunately, it reminds me of porridge), though I am a fan of mushroom flavors.  I liked the acidity of the gnocchi's tomato basil sauce, but thought the gnocchi themselves were a little too chewy.  The overall portion size was just right.

The prospectives on either side of me ordered the chicken marsala and seemed to enjoy it very much.

Dessert was a vanilla bean panna cotta, neither too soft nor too Jello-like, served with some mixed berries.  There was plenty of wine (to accompany), both red and white.  We had a very charismatic server who, apart from being charmingly old-fashioned in purposefully serving all the women first, also struck me as the Italian version of Coach from Coach Sushi; twice, I had to put my hand over my wine glass to prevent a refill. 

Dinner was followed by pomegranate margaritas at Palomino, which serves an all-evening happy hour menu of reasonably good drinks for the pleasant price of $5, in a relatively classy (albeit loud) lounge environment.