Noun 1. gastronome - a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink)bon vivant, epicure, epicurean, foodie, gourmetsensualist - a person who enjoys sensuality. Follow me on Twitter: @Aghastronome

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lusty Italian: Sorrento Ristorante

As I mentioned earlier, I had a belated birthday dinner with my sister (you know, the favorite one) at Sorrento Ristorante on lower Westheimer.  Well, okay at 415 Westheimer to be precise.  It is a new establishment, in a new strip center - which rather vexes me, I like the old homes, the ramshackleness of it all.  Why, Feast is lovely, old and quaint and lovely - it's a happy place for me.  Okay, newness be damned, Sorrento is a beautifully apppointed establishment.  They have an incredible wine room which can be rented out for private parties, a granite bar for more casual diners, a piano sits between the bar and the dining room and the place just screams elegance.  Then I show up, nerdy-girl in a skirt unabashedly taking photos with my crackberry.  My sister is a delight, and she gladly helps out in the photography department with her iPhone, which takes a a superior inferior photo.  Here's where I renew my threat to buy a "big girl" camera, and make a mental note that reads:  "I know the photos will reign supreme, but, I think I'm going to be inflicting a large amount of needless embarrasment upon myself."  I manage to do this self-inflicted embarassment thing just fine and dandy without any additional props or electronic gear, unless karaoke is involved.  Sometimes, I wonder about me. 

Risotto Cheese Wheel
My Ya-Ya, who is one of the best good cooks ever, has told us about this amazing risotto in a cheese wheel at Sorrento.  I am now fixated on this and it has to be ordered, period.  We valet park around 6:30 p.m. and request a table for two.  My sister has dined here three times, she gets the same table every time.  This is not planned, it's just how things shake out.  Our waiter leaves us with a wine menu to bring glasses of water, of which there are three choices.  I'm tempted to say "tap", but I squelch my inner-smartass.  We order a bottle of wine and our waiter...you are not going to believe this, leaves us in peace, with our wine and without menus that we may converse freely without waitstaff hovering.  This is genius, this is brilliant and folks, THIS is what finer dining should truly be all about.  No rushing, no making me feel like the selfish meanie who prefers to be self-indulgent, unharried over a meal and some nice grape juice.  Digesting a bit at the table over polite conversation....not being rushed off without so much as a complimentary pink antacid chewable tablet for dessert.  Stephen was lovely, keeping an eye on his charges, and if you looked up at him - there he was "May I ...?"  Bring menus, get you more wine, recommend wine, show you our dessert menu.....amazing service.

Wild Mushroom Raviolo
Butternut Squash Ravioli
We shared a single serving of Wild Mushroom Risotto with White Truffle Oil, which is finished table side in a wheel of cheese.  Garnished with a couple of slices of truffle, this is just perfection.  The creamy, soft risotto and mushrooms are complimented with the warm, earthy flavor of truffle oil and the slight crunch of shaved truffle.  I had the Wild Mushroom and Sage Raviolo with Creminis and White Truffle Oil, while my sister had the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Julienne Zucchini, Sage Brown Butter and Lemon Zest.  Both were recommendations of our waiter, Stephen - who advised me against the Lobster Tortellini, which he felt did not always translate well from menu to plate for some patrons.  I think I will go back and try it, as I'm adventerous like that.  The Wild Mushroom and Sage Raviolo were luscious, freshly made pasta, well balanced flavors in a light truffle oil sauce.  The Butternut Squash Ravioli were wonderful and the brown butter and sage flavors set off the sweet creamy squash.  The pasta was made with squash as well, as the filling and pasta were indiscernable.  Both of our meals were excellent, however, I feel that the raviolo beat the ravioli though, hands down.

To finish our meal, we split the Chocolate Cannelloni with Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Pecans.  Chocolate and red wine, is there anything more lovely?  The plate was garnished with a house made truffle and a smattering of berries.  We shared the truffle, only because I ate my half before my sister could nab it.  Rich dark chocolate infused with toasted pecans encased in a freshly made chocolate canneloni. This was all hit and no miss.  We were so excited to see the chocolate, we forgot to snap a photo of it...

Bottom Line:  Sorrento Ristorante is well priced for the quality and the service is impeccable.  The piano is a wonderful touch and does not overpower conversation.  This is a wonderful location and atmosphere for a special dinner or a romantic first date.  If you are looking for excellent italian, it's not a special day and you have no romantic interest in your life, by all means, drop in to have dinner at the bar.

Sorrento Ristorante
415 Westheimer
713.527.0609

Reservations are not required, but I would recommend them.

Photos courtesy of my sistes's iPhone device.

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