So… I have a few favorite Italian spots, and none of them are in Little Italy. Cinghiale has earned its spot – from the food to the busy atmosphere to the service. Cody was super helpful in helping us decipher the menu and design some vegetarian dishes. He also helped us pick a great peppery Pinot Nero that fit in perfectly with our rich, decadent pasta dishes.
I started with the Fairytale Pumpkin Chestnut “Cappuccino” with poached pear. A lot of people think of pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice and expect that cinnamon sweet sugary flavor when they hear pumpkin. This soup was savory – the chestnut pumpkin flavor shown through this creamy bisque. The pumpkin is incredibly smooth. The poached seasonal pears at the bottom of the coffee cup was like a sweet surprise. This was all mine, despite the name, it is not vegetarian – there is chicken stock and pancetta.
The brussels sprout and kale salad is also not vegetarian – but the chef was nice enough to sub out the pancetta vinaigrette for a lemon one. (I can’t wait to go back and try it as it was designed; I hope it will still be on the menu…) This was definitely more kale than brussels, but I didn’t mind. The baby kale was not at all bitter and the crisp shaved sprouts added a nice crunch. There were some other textural elements – shaved cheese and some croutons.
For main courses, we all went pasta; we did have a 6.2 mile run the next day. My mom went with a chef-inspired pasta dish – fresh house-made spaghetti with seasonal vegetables – including more brussels, mushrooms and the baby kale. She loved the garlicky pasta and ate just about every bite. I was amazed that we all had pasta and each dish had a completely different flavor profile.
I was the only one who ordered straight from the menu – a tajarin with a rich buttery sea urchin sauce and day boat scallops. The scallops were super sweet and exquisitely cooked. They truly complemented the briny and slightly floral pasta sauce. I cannot say enough about the chef’s fresh pasta. This particular egg pasta has a long history in Tuscany – where locals would compete to see who could make the longest and thinnest noodle. Incredibly delicate but still very hearty. The half portion was plenty filling and had 6-8 scallops.
My sister designed her own dish based on the ingredients she found on the menu – a simple gnocchi dish with a sage and parmesan brown butter.The gnocchi were perfect – thick pillows of dough that melted in your mouth with every bite. She ordered the large dish for hopes of left overs – there weren’t any. It could be because my mother and I couldn’t help ourselves either (sorry Karen!).