Smoked Potato Focaccia with Tomato Puree, Squid Ink and Sesame Grissini, Fontina Bombolini, House Pickles
Table Bread on Request
Trippa –Beef Tripe, Lobster, Brodetto
Crudo – Kampachi, Sea Bean, Heart of Palm, Finger Lime, Basil Seed, Lemon Cream
Tortellini – Chicken Tortellini, Cockscomb, Chanterelle Mushroom, Parmigiano
Foienolli – Cannoli Shell, Sicilian Pistachios, Black Truffles, Foie Gras Mousse
Linguine – Linguini, Masseria Spicy XO Sauce, Aglio, Olio, Pepperoncino, Bread Crumb
Risotto – Acquerello Risotto, Porcini, King Oyster Mushroom, Parmigiano
Cappelletti – Winter Squash, Ricotta, Brown Butter, Sage, Parmigiano
Cavolfiore – Cauliflower, Pinenut, Golden Raisin, Oregano, Garlic, Mugolio
Funghi – Wild Mushroom, Radish, Nepitella
Lepre – Wild Scottish Hare, Chestnut, Bitter Chocolate, Black Truffle
Pear – Anise Hyssop, Vanilla Zabaglione, Cranberry and Blueberry Sorbetto
Mela – Roasted Apple, Brown Butter Sponge, Truffle Honey-Cider Reduction, Black Walnut Gelato
Semifreddo – Pawpaw Semifreddo, Spiced Pawpaw Pudding Cake, Burnt Meringue Gelato, Roasted Hazelnuts
Torta al Cioccolato – Baked Chocolate Mousse, Dulce de Leche, Mascarpone Cream, Tiramisu Gelato
Blueberry Meringue, Hazelnut Macaron with Nutella Cream, Dark Chocolate with Sour Cherry and Hazelnut
Approaching Masseria shortly after a text from Resy arrived as a reminder of the reservation, a “Pro Tip” to inquire about the off-menu Foienoli part of that message, it was with a bit of confusion that the car navigated past several warehouses before finally coming upon the low-slung building delineated by white neon, parking in abundance and a walk through the front gate immediately transporting guests to someplace else by way of a courtyard like one might expect to see at a Restaurant and Inn in the European Countryside.
Named after a farm in the heel of Italy’s boot and opened in mid-2015, the first Restaurant from Chef Nick Stefanelli in reality not as remote as streetlights make it seem thanks to the nearby Union Market, Masseria is described as “a celebration of big, harmonious flavors” and having twice received a Michelin Star the first impression one receives on entry is that of warm hospitality, a hostess offering greetings inside the boisterous foyer before leading those with reservations to the main dining room spread out in front of an enormous open kitchen.
Packaged as a Prix-Fixe or Tasting Menu only experience, the fully booked sixty seats and sizable menu making this a fairly aggressive approach for a kitchen that sports far less staff than places such as The Dabney, it was shortly after seating that tables were presented with the night’s menu and a description of available plates, the start of Truffle season adding supplemental costs to several plates in addition to an appealing Wild Game Tasting.
Happy to see Stefanelli working alongside staff in the Kitchen while additionally covering the Pass, a server noting that this was a particularly busy evening thanks to a large party occupying most of the lounge, it was after lengthy discussion that the decision was made to order three 4-course Prix-Fixe plus several supplements, the price apparently a point of contention based in many online reviews but seemingly quite fair considering the quality of both presentations and the ingredients used.
Not a place for the hurried, the service professional yet pleasant with plates rolling out at twenty-to-thirty minute intervals that seem to be fixed thanks to the volume and flow of the kitchen, it is with several Canapes that Dinner at Masseria begins, November’s selection including Smoked Bread alongside vibrant Tomato Spread and Cheese-filled Doughnuts plus house-pickled Vegetables and Black Sesame Grissini.
Taking home numerous awards and accolades from local media in addition to the Red Guide, Stefanelli’s style of marrying coastal Italian Cuisine to robust flavors of the country’s interior readily apparent from the get-go in plates such as Trippa which places tender slices of Tripe beneath a half-Lobster Tail, it is with good fortune that each Prix Fixe can be composed of as many items from one section as the diner desires, the Kampachi Crudo dressed up in Citrus and snappy Sea Beans available for lighter appetites while others may want to go Pasta from the start with items such as classic Tortellini made far less-so by Cockscomb and Chanterelle Mushroom Puree.
Offering complimentary Housemade Bread on request, a smart practice preventing waste but still allowing those who wish to sop up every bit of Sauce a chance, it was as a mid-course that Masseria’s “Foienolli” was presented in all its glory, the $10 three-bite Pastry riffing on the rustic sweet with Duck Liver Mousse and Black Truffles every bit as decadent as it sounds and a nice segue into another signature plate featuring fresh-cut Linguini slicked in spicy XO Sauce with plenty of Garlic, Peppers and Bread Crumbs that remain crunchy.
Adding $10 for the daily Risotto, one kitchen station seemingly dedicated to just this dish as Chefs continually attended to the pot, those looking for a Gluten-Free option will be happy to know that Masseria’s Rice rivals any of the Noodles thanks to Mushrooms and Cream while the seasonal Cappelletti also shines thanks to pureed Squash, Butter and Ricotta.
Allowing substitutions from the tasting menu at a supplemental charge of $20 per plate, the price entirely justified for a thick Saddle of Wild Scottish Hare plus Frenched Rack of Ribs atop Chestnut Butter and Dark Chocolate showered with Truffles, it was in Vegetarian plates that others invested their appetites, the Cauliflower a dynamic dish with sweetness from the Raisins and a light minty finish while the Wild Mushrooms were fine, but also redundant in the setting of prior dishes.
Cleansing the palate with diced Pears beneath Vanilla Zabaglione and mixed Berry Sorbetto it was after a short break that dishes entitled Mela, Semifreddo and Torta al Cioccolato arrived, the first two fruity and frangrant with the Black Walnut Gelato making the former particularly memorable while the Baked Chocolate Mousse was rich and bitter but nicely balanced by Mascarpone Cream and Caramel.