A trio of amuses starts the meal, snacky nibbles equal parts fun and refined. A beet and gorgonzola chip, with the texture of a bold, crisp pork rind but with a beet's earthy sweetness and the unmistakable flavor of gorgonzola in a powder on top; a tiny pork belly "tot" whose flavor is all pork, no filler, its richness cut with a hard cider glaze; super-crisp artichokes in a lemon aioli laced with smoked trout roe.
To drink? The Unstrung Harp, a refreshing yet complex cocktail featuring Gosling’s rum, crushed limes, fresh ginger syrup, and prosecco. Be sure to taste it with the lemon aioli.
An endlessly interesting tangle of vegetables; the exact composition changes every day, but some vegetables will be roasted, some raw, some pickled, some dehydrated, some candied. The standouts here were the ironed-flat candied zucchini blossoms, thin wisps of dehydrated fennel, fava beans, and a caramelized sunchoke crumble they call "soil"—accurately characterizing its earthy appeal and crunchy chew.
And to drink
To accompany the vegetable plate, Tascarella pours a mineral-rich Italian blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (Paolo Scavino Langhe Bianco). Herbal and slatey, with a bright lime-peel acidity, it latches in to both the fresh vegetables and the concentrated caramelized ones.
Seared Sea Scallops
Chicken skin as a "condiment" seems odd, but it brings a savory crunch to this dish, the crisp skin crumbled with thyme, fennel pollen, and toasted sesame seeds. It joins a diver scallop atop honsemejii mushrooms in a chicken stock glaze, and a lemon-laced scallion puree. The accompanying wine, a Tuscan Vermentino/Malvasia blend from winemaker Bibi Graetz, has just a little more richness than the last and a lovely salinity.
Gnocchi & Lobster
This dish looks heavy, but the taste is all summer—every element is so much lighter than it appears. The sweet corn froth you see has the flavor of a chowder but the ephemeral lightness of a froth, skimming over the butter-poached lobster rather than weighing it down; the butter-sautéed gnocchi are equally light, though with crisp, browned edges. As spoonfuls of corn froth disappear, you'll find a reduced lobster jus that gives the final bites a bit more savory depth.
The obvious choice to serve with lobster gnocchi might be a buttery Chardonnay, but Tascarella’s picks are more interesting than that. He chooses a soothing, slightly rich Sancerre—an almost brothy golden wine that’s just lemony enough to wipe the palate clean.
Moist, crisp-edged halibut tops white wine-sautéed artichokes, pearl onions, and a kalamata purée; dehydrated Meyer lemon bits come back to life in the mouth with the moisture of the fish. The earthy elements of the olive in particular make it possible to pair the halibut course with an herbal red wine. Tascarella’s choice is a Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera blend from Puglia.
Paired with Pork
At this point, you’ve eaten well, and you may be more than a little buzzed. Many tasting menus push the limits, racheting up to “more important” wines as the night goes on. But let’s be honest. After a cocktail and four glasses of wine, your palate is shot, and you could go for a beer. So with the juicy heritage pork chop and savory apple pie, Tascarella grants your wishes. Refreshingly hoppy Lagunitas IPA and a shot of Maker’s on ice—it’s actually one of the best pairings of the night.
Hearty enough to fortify you after so many glasses of wine. A well-marbled, incredibly moist pan-seared Heritage pork chop with a crisp top skin lies atop dandelion greens and a bourbon-laced pork jus; alongside that is a "savory apple pie," the tender, flaky butter crust made without sugar and surrounding a core of thyme, onion, and white wine-laced apple filling.
"Who wants dessert after that many courses?" laughed chef Cipollone. Rather than following a plated dessert with petits fours, Tenpenny goes straight for the finale with chocolate truffles, strawberry pâtes de fruits, and financiers with espresso cream. (Diners are presented with a dessert menu, just in case; but Cipollone and Tascarella report that few elect to add another course.)
Of the two amari that close out the evening, “one is sweet,” says Tascarella, “and the other is brutal.” Make sure to taste the mentholated Fernet branca with the chocolate truffle.