An invitation from Tony Foreman to dine as his guests at Cinghiale brought expectations of something special. The free valet parking got off us to a great start. We entered into the enoteca (wine bar) flanked by the more formal osteria dining rooms with table cloths. The high wooden beam ceilings create an airy Italianate feeling while large windows offer views of people strolling past as well as the adjacent marina. The urbane feel fits right in with the Harbor East neighborhood. Clientele included a mix of people ranging from “suit and tie” business people to casually dressed 20-30 year olds.
The menu features Italian food and while you can order “ala carte”, two different “fix priced”, multi-course offerings provide comparative bargains. The three course $29 “Cucina Della Nonna” dinner includes a choice of Bruschetta, a main pasta course and a choice of dolci (dessert). The “Prezzo Fisso” four course $59 dinner offer a choice of Charcuterie or Antipasti as a starter, a pasta course, a main course and choice of dolci (wine pairings for each course – including dessert!- are an additional $30). We both opted for the 4 course dinner (John with wine pairings).
Our first courses included Calamari and Tuna Tartare. The grilled calamari served with shredded parsnip was a wonderful, blend of taste and texture (and earned a “Thumbs Up” from John); the round patty of grated tuna with capers and shallots was an enjoyable surprise. Marty’s pasta course was Squid Ink Tagliolini with dark pasta offset by pieces of lobster and tiny clams and left him looking very happy.
John’s pasta course was tagliatelle with zucchini, ramps, asparagus and mint; simpler yet satisfying. For the main course, Marty opted for tagliata di Manzo while John had Seared “Big Eye” Tuna. The tagliata – grilled sirloin with carmelized onions and hollandaise sauce arrived cooked as ordered and pleased Marty. John’s big hunk of tuna was grilled just right and served with braised fennel.
Perhaps the biggest hit was a sampling from the chef of grilled duck with rhubarb and pan seared foie gras. Both John – who likes duck – and Marty – who doesn’t ordinarily – thought it was “Thumbs Up” incredibly good.
Portions are not overly big but that worked to our advantage leaving room for dessert! John ordered a Panna Cotta and Marty had home made sorbets. The Panna Cotta custard was smooth and silky but the sorbets were the biggest hit. (A selection of fines cheeses provides an alternative to standard desserts.)
Service during the dinner was exceptional; the staff is attentive and on top of things while friendly and avoiding pitfalls of over-formality.
Why hadn’t we managed to dine here before? Maybe because John’s dinner alone cost $99 + tax + tip? Perhaps… <Wink>
Facts: Cinghiale (Harbor East); 822 Lancaster St; 410-547-8282; www.cgeno.com; Open 7 days for dinner only opening at 5:30 until 11 pm on Fri/Sat; until 10 pm Mon-Thu and 9 pm on Sunday; Full Bar; Free valet parking. (Visited 8/31/2012)