Thursday, April 06, 2006

Il Grano

April 6

Salvatore Marino cooked at the Beard House last night. He’s the chef and co-owner of Il Grano, an ingredient-focused, seafood-oriented Italian restaurant in West LA. Then he visited me in our Park Avenue offices this afternoon. All of our meeting rooms were full, so we just sat in the lobby — he, his brother, his publicist and I. Sal’s an intense guy in a really likeable way, and he spent about an hour talking mostly about his quest for great products.
A native Los Angelino, he nonetheless grew up in Italy (Naples) and is very much into the Italian approach to food of using ingredients that are in season and preparing them in a way that allows them to express themselves. But of course, that’s now the approach of many American chefs to food, too — either that or molecular gastronomy.

Sal’s food speaks for itself. Here’s what we ate and drank:

White Carrot Soup with Green Oil
Branzino Tartare with Anchovy Oil
White Pizza with Fava Beans and Provolone
Villa Carafa Aspirinio d’Aversa 2004

Selection of Crudo
Aspirinio d’Aversa Villa Carafa 2004

Foie Gras–Stuffed Black Sole with Vermouth Sauce
Hoffstater Gewürztraminer 2002 (an Italian wine, believe it or not, from Alto Adige)

Squid Ink Pasta with Cuttlefish and Sea Urchin Sauce
Feudi di San Gregorio Cutizzi Vendemmia Tardiva 2003

Skate with Crema di Riso di Venere (a risotto made with a black rice whose name translates as “Venus’s rice”) and Pea Sauce
Palmina Nebbiolo 2003 (from California — Santa Barbara, in fact)

Tongue-Stuffed Lamb Chops with Parmigiano-Reggiano Flan and Ramps
Terrabianca Ceppate 2001

Lemon Bigne with Lemon Cream
Feudi di San Gregorio Privilegio 2002

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