Primo Assaggio (Charcuterie di Trentina) – Polenta Crackers with House Cultured Butter and Ohio Egg Botarga, Beef Tongue, House Speck, Llama Sausage, Pickled Carrots, Pears and Broccoli Stems
Morsi (Chef inspired Tramezzini) – Ricotta Fritter, Tomato Powder, Sweet Pepper Crema
Crudo di Mare o Terra – Beet Cured Steelhead Trout, Paw-Paw, Pickled Asian Pear, Sea Beans, Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
*ADD-ON* Woof Fired Potato Pizza – Ash Roasted Potatoes, Beef “Sudo”, Provolone, Rosemary & Oil Poached Farmer’s Alium
Funghi – Grilled Maitake Mushrooms, Chestnut Puree, Hot Mustard Seeds, Bamboo Rice Arancini
Table Bread – Wild Ferment Pane Pita, Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Beef Suet Candle
Gnocco – Crispy Potato Gnocchi, Sweet Potato Chips, Sweet Potato Puree, Spiced Apples
Fuoco Pesce Arrosto – Red Snapper al Catoccio, White Wine Lemon Sauce, Artichokes, Microgreens
*ADD-ON* Beef Osso Bucco – Red Wine Braised Ohio Beef, Semolina Gnocchetti Sardi, Dehydrated Olives, Grilled Herb Salsa Verde
*ADD-ON* Wood-Fired Lasagna – Thinly layered Pasta Sheets, Bolognese Bianco, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Seasonal Vegetables, Trenta Grana Parmesan
Estruso – Rigatoni with Sablefish and Country Ham XO Sauce, Braised Kale, Trenta Grana Parmesan
Farmhouse Vegetable – Roasted Delicata Squash, Toasted Squash Seeds, Ricotta Salata, Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Beast – Foie Gras Roasted over Hay, House Focaccia, Pistachio Butter, Concord Grape Puree
*ADD ON* Cavatelli En Fonduta – Blistered Grapes, Brown butter Radicchio, Taleggio, Brewer’s Sugar
Re-Do – A Second Look at a Course you Enjoyed previously
Formaggio – Trenta Grana Custard Tart, Smoked Almonds, Ohio Honey
Seasonal Single Origin Drip Coffee from Rising Star Coffee Roasters
Dolci – Fennel-Orange Panna Cotta, Fennel Frawns, Chocolate-Anise Cookies, Tomato and Basil Powder
*ALTERNATIVE DESSERT* S’mores – Toasted Marshmallow Fluff, Dark Chocolate Semifreddo, Cocoa Nibs, Graham Cracker
GRAZIE – Carrot Cake Bites, Date Syrup, Smoked Cream Cheese Frosting
Having watched the buzz about Jonathon Sawyer grow slowly ever since a since a somewhat hit-and-miss experience at The Greenhouse Tavern in 2012 it was with great anticipation that a reservation at Trentina was made for three people at 6:30 Saturday evening, the $115 Menu Bianco proving not only that the Chef has indeed developed over the intervening years, but also that there may be a place for upscale locavore dining in Cleveland.
Opened in 2014, a James Beard Award for the Chef soon to follow, Trentina sees Sawyer and Chef De Cuisine David Kocab take on the concept of Northern Italian cuisine by way of Ohio Farmers, the classic plates of the Trentino region reinterpreted with a focus on bold flavors focused on simple elegance at the peak of season.
Taking over an old building on the edge of CWRU Campus, the interior sparsely designed but decorated with bold abstracts that couple with the mellow soundtrack to offer a casual elegance to the night, it was at one of several four-tops that our trio was seated and with menus already in place the only question was how much a la carte to be added, the eventual decision being three plates plus one significant substitution.
Well portioned for a tasting, each course following Thomas Keller’s idea of the plate being satisfying while still leaving diners for want of ‘one more bite,’ dining began with three forms of housemade charcuterie including Llama Sausage plus shaved Egg ‘bottarga,’ the richness and funk well compensated by way of house pickles including semi-sweet Pears and otherwise thrown-away ‘rescued’ Broccoli stems.
Preaching whole food usage and sustainability, Ricotta Fritters dusted with the dehydrated peel of Tomatoes while a plate of raw Trout found nuance in Beets, Pickled Pears and Paw-Paw, course four featured the first “add-on” option, Trentina’s much praised Potato Pizza showing brightly with yeasty bubbles and great pliability beneath a hint of ash, rich Ragu and Provolone Cheese tinged in Rosemary.
Showing a great degree of diversity as the menu progresses, courses to follow including Grilled Maitakes over an unfried cube of Bamboo rice “Arancini,” Pan Seared Sweet Potato Gnocchi brought into season with Cinnamon and Apples plus a delicate filet of Red Snapper unbagged tableside with notes of Wine and Artichokes, one of the highlights of Trentina’s everyday menu is undoubtedly the Bread service, a crisp balloon of air and sour notes already delicious and all the better when dipped in the slowly melting Beef Fat Candle.
Adding three portions of pasta to the meal, two available in an appetizer size while the crispy-edged Lasagna is only offered as a weighty full rectangle, one would be hard pressed to fault any aspect of the trio’s price-point or execution, the “Beef Osso Bucco” pairing Shank to springy Gnocchetti while Cavatelli went off the grid to set seared Grapes next to Radicchio poached in Brown Butter, the tasting-only ‘Estruso’ perhaps envisioned during a brainstorming session for Sawyer’s Noodlecat concept as the tubes of Rigatoni sang beneath funky “XO Sauce” and Parmesan.
Well sated at this point, even a single added plate likely too much for the average diner when put on-top of the Menu Bianco, savories ended in roasted Delicata Squash from a nearby farm followed by a slice of Duck Liver given the “PB&J” treatment over housemade Focaccia, the clever concept of a “Re-Do” presented giving diners a second look at a course he or she enjoyed previously.
Using regional Italian Cheese to make a custard topped in smoked almonds and local Honey before moving onto dessert, the Panna Cotta an all-out disaster both in terms of its rubbery texture and off-putting flavor, better bites were found in the campfire favorite Semifreddo accompanied by toasted Marshmallows and Graham Cracker crumble, one last bite of Carrot Cake better than either of the desserts in the opinion of nearly everyone in the dining room and thankfully sending all off with fond memories of what is the first ‘destination-worthy’ meal I have had in the State of Ohio.