Whenever I visit Tre Trattoria, I find myself incapable of saying no to three of chef Jason Dady’s antipasti. One is a farro salad with the crunchy whole grain tossed with sautéed onion, celery and carrot and coated in a simple, effective vinaigrette. Another is his white bean salad, which gets a lift from parsley and lemon in a gremolata. The third is the golden beet salad with slender bites of orange adding a sweet-tart edge.
So, you can imagine how pleased I was to find the three dishes making up one option as the first course Tre Trattoria in Alamo Heights is offering during Culinaria’s Restaurant Week. It was a winning antipasti selection and a great way to start the evening. Also good was the roasted Caprese salad in which creamy fresh mozzarella was paired with a roasted tomato and plenty of a rich green basil sauce on the plate.
My friend chose the house-made spaghetti with garlic, peperoncino and salty ricotta salata strips but without the anchovies for her pasta course. The garlic was intense, just as she liked it, and it proved a nice partner with the Italian Merlot that we were sharing.
I preferred my rustic tagliatelle , which had fairly good noodles, but, even though they were made in house, they couldn’t hold a candle to the oyster mushrooms in a thyme-flavored sauce sauce that flavored the whole plate.
We both shared the same entrée, grilled ahi tuna over eggplant caponata. When the dish was served, we both were fearful that the fish had been cooked longer than the rare we had ordered it, but the center of both servings was beautifully red and the flavor richly satisfying. The eggplant was the perfect complement with robust flavors of garlic and basil.
Basil is a flavor we associate with Italian cuisine, but how many of us would have thought of using it in a dessert? Yet there was a chiffonade of basil sprinkled over the top of the ricotta cake. And it worked beautifully. When I first read of the dessert on the menu, I thought it might be cheesecake, but the waitress explained that it was more like a sponge cake. That wasn’t quite right either. Maybe more like a polenta cake, but then again not really. All that mattered is that it was good, especially with a dollop of mascarpone on top and more of those slender slivers of orange.
Also offered was Dady’s signature Nutella x 3, which has always been one of the most seductive treats in town, and Thursday’s sample was no exception. The consistency achieved in dishes such as that confection as well as the antipasti have always made Tre so comfortably reliable and rewarding.
Time is running out on Culinaria’s Restaurant Week. Special lunches are priced at $15, while multi-course dinners cost $35. For a list of participants, from Biga on the Banks to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, click on the Culinaria ad above.