Besides the excellence of the regular menu at Cucina Toscana, Chef Elio Scanu presents a new Italian menu at his special Trattonomy dinners. I attended the first one and have seldom eaten such good Italian food. For these dinners, Scanu moves away from the expected, exploring instead the kind of cooking that Italian chefs are experimenting with in Italy right now. Classic regional Italian dishes are treated with Asian and French techniques, but still show their roots, raising all kinds of interesting questions about the meaning of authenticity.
Here's my advance on the first dinner, and it exceeded my expectations, one of the best meals I've had. Wines were peerlessly matched with each course by Marco Stevaroni.
Examples: The first course was a take on the traditional Piemonte dish vitello tonnato, roasted cold sliced veal with a creamy sauce made of pureed tuna, capers and lemon. Brilliantly, Chef Elio Scanu replaced the veal with tuna tataki, crusted with smoked peppercorns and fennel. Equally brilliantly, Marco Stevanoni paired the dish with a Bibi Graetz Ansonica from Tuscany.
The pasta course was in “inside out” version of bolognese—a parmesan cream was treated with agar so it could be stuffed into tortelloni; when it was cooked, the solid became liquid and each bite exploded into intense flavor. It was topped with a tartar made from 42-day cured ribeye and raw tomatoes.
Another time-consuming dish: A duck leg that had been roasted for 24 hours and lacquered with a raspberry-balsamic glaze. Its surprising sidekick was an earthy-airy broccoli rabe mousseline.
Personally, I'm pretty much over pork belly–there's just too much of it around to get excited about. But this trattonomic cube of pork fat came with a fascinating "mayonnaise" which sounds like total overkill until you understand that the so-called mayo was an emulsion of slow-cooked potatoes and olive oil.
Lovely lamb offset by pungent juniper and grapefruit was followed by the grand finale dessert course–nine litlle scoops of housemade gelati and sorbetti, accompanied by that miraculous wine, Royal Tokaji.
This was a one-time menu, so you may never have the chance to taste any of these dishes. But Trattonomy will be served every month in the north dining room of Cucina Toscana and I'd advise you to sign up for the next one. Or maybe they'll start selling them on a subscription basis? Like a monthly dinner club? I'd join.