Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Abbicci: Dinner on the Cape

Over the weekend, I spent a few days vacationing on Cape Cod and obviously had to try a couple restaurants new to me for dinner. I was staying in the Dennis Village area, close to Rt. 6A, so Abbicci, in Yarmouthport, was a nearby option. So four of us decided to dine there on Friday evening.

Abbicci is a Mediterranean Bistro and they have a relatively new Executive Chef, David Schneller, who spent the past four years as sous chef at Arrows restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine, has Abbicci as their Executive Chef. Though Abbicci used to be more focused on Italian cusine, Chef Schneller expanded the menu to include flavors and dishes from other Mediterranean countries, including Spain, Greece and Turkey.

When we arrived at the restaurant, there was complimentary valet parking, a nice treat especially when I am used to paying for valet service. Walking into the restaurant, you enter at their small bar area which is smartly decorated, making a rather hip looking area. It did not seem pretentious and we all liked the immediate feel of the ambiance. We were seated in a small dining room next to a window overlooking a large shelf of wines. It was a more intimate area and simply decored though well done.

Their wine list primarily has wines from Italy, France, the U.S. and Spain. There was a good selection of wines from some excellent producers though prices seemed a bit high, more than twice average retail. We first ordered a bottle of the 2004 Terrabianca Chianti Riserva Vigna della Croce ($59). This was an excellent example of a Chianti, though maybe a bit daunting for our initial appetizers. It is a bigger wine, a bit tannic and fuller bodied so it needs heavier foods as an accompaniement. Our next bottle, the 2006 Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto Di Dogliani Sori Dij But ($50), was a lighter, fruity wine though with food structure and decent complexity. An easy drinking wine sure to appeal to most wine drinkers.

I liked the diversity of their menu and there were plenty of dishes that entice me. The menu is broken down into Tapas, Antipasti/Insalata, Primi, Secondi and Contorni. Prices were generally reasonable, with entrees averaging about $33. Many of the ingredients are acquired locally so the menu is subject to change, dependent on what is seasonally available. They also have a couple tasting menus available.

We decided to break our dinner down into three parts. Initially, we began with a couple Tapas and an Insalata. The Black Mission Figs ($7.50) were wrapped in Prosciutto and drizzled with walnut oil before being baked. These were very good, with a nice combination of the ripe fruit of the figs, the saltiness of the Prosciutto and the slight nuttiness of the oil. The Manchego Cheese Gougere ($5.50) were Manchego cheese flavored fritters. I love the taste of Manchego so found these especially tasty. They were very light and cripsy and everyone very much enjoyed them. The classic Caprese Salad ($14) came with Bufala Mozzarella, local Tomatoes, Lawa's Basil and EV Olive Oil. A very well done version of this classic.

The initial phase of our dinner had gone very well and we eagerly awaited the next phase. And we were not disappointed. We chose to split a couple small Primi dishes. Primi comes in either a small or large version. The Risotto al Vino Rosso (small $13) is made with Carnaroli Rice, House Made Brodo, Tempranillo Wine and Red Cow Parmiagiano Reggiano. Risotto is commonly made with Arborio rice but sometimes it is made with Carnaroli rice instead. Carnaroli is supposed to retain liquid and holds its shape better than Arborio rice. It is also more expensive than Arborio. The Risotto was superb, with a rich, creamy flavor enhanced by the wine. I could have devoured a large bowl of the Risotto. The Gnocchi (small $12) were hand made potato gnocchi with Guanciale, Fennel Pollen, Lawa's Sage and Orange Zest. This dish was very good with the nice salty flavor of the guanciale and very pillowy but firm gnocchi.

The entrees were next, with two of the Contorni, sides. For the sides ($7 each), we chose the Spinach Sicilian Style and the Leek & Mushroom Casserole. I did not eat any of the sides as neither appealed to me, though my dining companions raved about them, especially the Casserole. There were no complaints at all about the sides.

For entrees, two of us had the Veal Milanese ($29), one the Wild King Salmon ($33) and the other the Grilled Veal Chop ($45). The problem was that all four of the entrees were overcooked. We did not feel like complaining at the time, and having to wait for them to remake all of the entrees. But it did mar our dining experience, which until then had been excellent.

The Grilled Veal Chop came with green olives, Heirloom cherry tomatoes, Pearl onions, Lawa's fried sage and Russian banana potatoes. It was supposed to be cooked medium rare but was definitely medium. The large veal chop was tender and flavorful and would have been excellent if cooked as ordered. The veggies and potatoes were very good, fresh and tasty. The Wild King Salmon was pan seared and served with Saba and a Spicy Marinated and Roasted Graffiti Eggplant. It was a bit overcooked and drier than it should have been, though again it was tasty and would have been excellent if cooked properly. The Veal Milanese was Panko crusted with spicy local greens and teardrop tomato salad. Both of the Veal dishes though were overcooked and a bit dry. They too would have been excellent if not overcooked.

For dessert, we chose to split a cheese plate ($25) with five different cheeses, including some local New England ones. This was an excellent plate with diverse and delicious cheese with the usual accompaniements. A great way to end our meal.

Service was very good, professional and accomodating. Overall, it was a good dinner though the overcooked entrees did prevent this from being an exceptional experience.

43 Main Street
Yarmouthport, MA
Phone: 508-362-3501

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