>> Sunday, December 11, 2011
Location: 7441 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
I'm going to break form a little this week and do a preview of an exciting gourmet market opening in La Jolla early 2012.
Disclosure: Before we get on with the good stuff, I just figure I should say that I am friends with the owner of Ariccia Market. I also didn't pay for any of the food shown in this blog post.
Just so you guys stick around, there is an exciting 6 courses of food that I go over later in this post. Feel free to skip the intro and scroll to the good stuff if that is your prerogative.
Owner Robert (Bobby) Pasucci has a love affair with porchetta, so when he opened his market, he decided to name his market after the town where porchetta originated - Ariccia. The market as imagined is a high end boutique Italian Market; at Ariccia Market, customers will be able to buy high quality products for everyday or special occasion meals. Oftentimes when shopping for that special meal, one has to shop at several different markets to get all the ingredients they need. However, Bobby imagines Ariccia as a "one stop shop" for all the culinary needs for that special meal.
The products that will be featured at Ariccia include hand made pastas, hand made sauces for those pastas, a selection of high end boutique Italian wines, cheeses, and charcuterie. Additionally, Ariccia will feature coffee, pastries, and a small selection of lunch selections.
When Bobby invited me to sample some of the items he plans to have at Ariccia, I quickly agreed. He originally planned a six course menu, but seeing that I was getting near my limit, he thoughtfully limited it to five courses. The below is all food that will be carried at Ariccia. The handmade pastas and raviolis will be packaged to sell, the sauces will be sold in jars, and the sandwich will be offered for lunch.
|uni and lardo crostini|
This course illustrates how something simple in Italian cuisine can be so drop dead delicious. The richness and saltiness of the lardo highlighted the freshness of the uni. This was a great way to start off the meal.
|porchetta agnolotti - french onion soup|
This was the first of several pasta courses to highlight the handmade pastas that will be offered at Ariccia. The agnolotto are basically small ravioli pockets that usually seal in a meat filling. These agnolotti contained some roasted porchetta, which made them very flavorful. The richness of the french onion soup really complimented the agnolotti and served as a nice sauce.
|squid ink tagliolini - uni, lemon buerre blanc|
Bobby has told me in the past that most people tend to like their pasta oversauced; the extra sauce covers up the freshness and taste of the pasta. I never really believed him until he served me this plate. The squid ink added an extra depth of flavor to the pasta. While it looks like the uni is the star of the dish, it really was simply a garnish for the tagliolini.
|sweet potato agnolotti - proscuitto, sage, creme fraiche buerre blanc|
As good as the squid ink taglionlini was, this was my favorite pasta course. The agnolotti containing the sweet potato had a great creamy sweetness that didn't conflict with the sauce. It was topped with some high quality proscuitto and some deep fried sage. The fried sage really added an element of savoriness to the dish as well as the aroma from the frying.
|porchetta panini - arugla, balsamic onion marmalade, toasted ciabatta|
This was the best course of the night. The crunchy skin of the porchetta along with the perfectly cooked porchetta itself just contained an amazing amount of the flavor. The balsamic onion marmalade was a perfect mix of sweet and savory to highlight the flavors of the porchetta. My only regret about this dish is that I was only able to eat half a sandwich instead of the full sandwich that Bobby had intended to serve me.
|panna cotta - mixed berries|
The panna cotta was a good texture and not too sweet, which made it a perfect way to end the meal. The macerated berries provided a nice sauce to compliment the panna cotta. I'm guessing that Ariccia will sell the panna cotta mix and not the pre-done panna cotta itself.
Additionally, Ariccia will feature handmade macarons by co-owner Stephanie. She whipped up a mixed batch to show them off. Now I'm not an expert on macarons by any means, but Stephanie's macarons are the best I've ever had; not only are they the best, they are on a higher level than the next best macarons I've ever had. It would be worth a trip to Ariccia for the macarons alone.
While some of you may dismiss this as a fluff piece, I really did evaluate the food as hard as I normally do other places; Bobby was sweating the whole time he was preparing food for me. While the overall meal wasn't as good as something you'd get in a fine dining restaurant, the quality was still very high. Furthermore, it seemed easy for Bobby to step away for 10 minutes between each course to prepare the next one. This type of easy preparation for high quality food is what most families would desire for their everyday eating.
Furthermore, some of the unique items at Ariccia were highlighted in this meal - namely the porchetta and the macarons. If I could have a porchetta panini for lunch every day, I would be an extremely happy man. Couple that with the awesome macarons, and I feel like there is a great recipe for success.
In the future, I hope to cover Ariccia more, including the grand opening. I'm really looking forward to when it opens its doors in 2012!