Thursday, July 3, 2014

First Look: Trentina

The Vibe: Bright white walls and a dark navy ceiling, mirrored tabletops, white leather chairs and gold accents make this tiny restaurant from chef Jonathon Sawyer sparkle. It feels clean and modern, grounded by trendy touches like vintage foiled wallpaper. We especially loved the flapper-era walls in the restaurant's high-tech unisex bathrooms (think heated seats, bidets and derriere dryers). Dress to impress: servers don black bow-ties, though management still mixes dress jeans with blazers and ties.

How Ready Are They: We spent four hours over our 15-course dinner, and there are two variations on each course to give diners "complementary experiences," according to Sawyer.

The first few courses flew a little too fast, with too-frequent check-ins from our servers leaving us feeling a little harried. After about the fourth course, though, the staff seemed to settle into a more natural rhythm. The dishes were immaculate, and the chef made regular visits to the table to explain dishes, at one point bearing a pair of gold scissors to snip open the parchment enveloping the Sable Fish al Cartoccio.

We Tried It: By unanimous agreement, our favorite taste of the evening was the sixth course, the Pasta alla Chitarra. My dish featured three super-long, thick, house-made noodles with a creamy, slightly citrusy sauce, foraged chicken of the woods mushrooms and shaved West Coast abalone.

The complementary dish had a similar sauce, though the noodles were diced, acini di pepe style, and topped with a beautifully runny Ohio farm egg. The experience was topped by a garnish of a burning ember, "for aromatics," according to the chef. Perfection.

What We'd Like To See: Dinner at Trentina is an experience unlike any currently available in Ohio. This is not a dinner-and-a-movie night out but an event unto itself. Still, the space is so inviting that we can't wait until a few a la carte items are added to the patio offerings.

If You Go: Trentina opens July 8. Tickets for the tasting menu are $100. 1903 Ford Drive, Cleveland, 216-421-2900,

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