Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lago Launches

   Lago, Fabio Salerno's Tremont restaurant that closed a year ago, is back as of Monday, reopening in a brand new location with a snazzy look, fresh ideas (as well some menu favorites from the old place) and the talented Lanny Chin as Executive Chef. This is wonderful in so many different ways.
Fabio and Nicole Salerno
  Fabio and his wife Nicole hosted friends and family last week and the husband and I were among the invited guests. It was a chance for the kitchen and wait staff to practice. If there were any problems we weren't aware of them and my impression was that they are ready for the real thing. Kicked off the evening with a nice cocktail- the Mirtillio: OYO Honey Vanilla vodka, muddled blueberries, just enough simple syrup, and lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Sat at the bar to take in the scene. It's a handsome open space with a look that shows a designer's hand. I love the color palette- terra cotta, cream, and sage. Lots of different seating options including some booths, and  a high counter with stools in the lounge area. We sat with two friends at a  table tucked in a corner.
   The menu is Italian, a mix of traditional and innovative. The antipasto selection is formidable: five types of olives; five cheeses; a variety of cured meats; marinated vegetables; white anchovies; and a tapenade. Left to myself I'd have made a meal of all this.  I like the line-up of small plates which include a bean puree, burrata,  the intriguing white balsamic and rosemary chips, and scallops with crispy kale, manchego polenta and pistachio pesto.They do pizzas and panini's, a variety of pastas, a vegetarian risotto of the day, and some seriously large portions of meat.

Bone In Fillet, Taxel Image Group
But instead of ordering, we asked Chefs Fabio and Lanny to do it  for the four of us and shared everything. The array of food was impressive.For starters there was a plate of the Salerno Family meatballs in tomato sauce and another of tuna tartar with parsley chips- both excellent and quickly demolished, and a jar of sour crunchy pickled vegetables. Then they sent out a beet salad and another featuring endive that really got my attention: the leaves were stuffed with goat cheese, topped with crumbles of cashew brittle and sloshed with a pomegranate-balsamic glaze.  We devoured a really nice spaghetti all carbonara with fat chunks of pancetta and gorgeous tuna steak served with kalamata olives tomato confit and plump salty caper berries; made serious inroads on an incredibly tender 14 oz. bone-in fillet flavored with a truffled demiglaze and sided with these fantastic rounds of mashed potatoes wrapped in prosciutto; and almost finished the 11 oz portion of veal saltimboca. 
  Had a very nice server recommended bottle of Nebbiolo. I like the way the mostly Italian wine list is organized, with categories for light, medium and full bodied reds and whites, and everything except the high end bottles available by the glass and half carafe too.
    I've been a fan of Fabio's and his family ever since I ate at Gusto, the spot they've operated in Little Italy since 2004, and I wrote a rave review of the original Lago for this magazine in 2007. Lanny and I met in 2010 when he was doing some push the envelope pop-up dinners with Matt Mytro. He's got a unique and inventive take on cooking and presentation and has just been waiting for the right situation to show it off. There's seems to be good chemistry between him and Fabio and I think this young up and comer will bring a lot of fine things to the table here, literally and figuratively.
artist's rendering
   Lago is part of the Flats East Bank redevelopment project, in the building at the end of West 10th  that also houses the Aloft Hotel. Two other new  restaurants, Ken Stewart's and the (oddly named) Willeyville are neighbors.  This long neglected area was ripe for revitalization, and I am so excited about what's happening here and the destination neighborhood it's likely to become.





 


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