27 February 2012

Tosca is another Linden Hills winner

I don’t know why it took us so long to try Trattoria Tosca. When our daughter moved to Minneapolis last year and rented an apartment in Linden Hills, we used to drive by it almost weekly on our way over to visit. For that matter, we used to live in Linden Hills many years ago and always welcomed an excuse to come back to the old neighborhood. And on top of that, Linden Hills has been attracting some of the best, most creative neighborhood restaurants.

While I can’t explain the delay, I’m pleased to report that we did finally eat there this past Saturday. Our verdict – excellent. Creative, innovative, delicious, pleasant, comfortable … all of those traits apply.

The main dining room is a large room with a high ceiling. It’s simply decorated and inviting. There are a few tables in the entryway. Those tables would enjoy a view of the kitchen as well as the comings and goings of the clientele. But I don’t think that I’d enjoy dining there. I believe in the summer they also have sidewalk tables, and that could be pleasant.

My wife and I really liked our server. She was very professional and knowledgeable. We had some questions about the wine list. She accurately described the wines we asked about, and gave us some good advice. The wine list, by the way, features lots of Italian wines and most are quite reasonably priced.

When we were seated, a basket of bread with butter was promptly brought to our table. The basket also included a plate of delicious marinated green olives and a small bowl of spiced nuts. Yum.

The restaurant offers a four-course tasting menu. For $50, you get a choice of a starter, a pasta course, an entrée, and a dessert. I think that’s pretty reasonable.

But instead, we decided to make our own ‘tasting menu’ by picking and sharing a few dishes. Our server was very helpful in pacing the service so that we could enjoy the dishes and the wine and not feel rushed.

We started with a kumquat salad. The little slices of kumquat gave the salad a refreshing citrusy character. The salad was lightly dressed, and underneath the salad was a layer of goat cheese. We both liked it very much.

For our meal, we got two half orders of pasta. One was a lobster gnocchi. It had chunks of lobster mixed with light, pillowy gnocchi. The sauce was rich and creamy and was drizzled with truffle oil. Excellent! The other was pappardelle fresh pasta sheets tossed with a lamb ragu, an aged goat cheese (that to me resembled feta), cucumbers cut into matchstick slivers, and fresh mint leaves. My wife doesn’t normally like lamb. But she raved about this dish.

After we finished the pasta, we felt satisfied and decided to quit there, rather than order an entrée. Tosca offers a small but nicely varied choice of entrées. All of the plates we saw brought out looked good.

So overall, we regret not having visited Tosca sooner. But you can be sure that we’ll be back.

No comments: