Elemental Perfection at Incanto

At the recommendation of Chef Kinch from Manresa, we finally got around to checking out Incanto. We were greeted by a very nice hostess who immediately had the owner, Mark Pastore walk us to our table. It’s very nice to see the proprietor engaged in his business. Our meal commenced with two wonderful amuses from the kitchen. The first was duck confit on a little crisp and the second was a really enjoyable herring roe. The roe was really great with wonderful aromas of sea foam and possessing a creamy texture.

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Our server, also named Mark, was really helpful in directing us to some of the house specialties. With his guidance we started with a half order of the house antipasto. The pates, the salami, the roasted garlic, and marinated vegetables were all delicious. I’m a sucker for cured meats (both French and Italian) so this starter couldn’t have been more perfect.

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We ordered two pastas next: “Beet cavetelli, mustard greens, poppy seeds and ricotta salata” and “Nettle ravioli with ricotta.” I remember saying, “These guys know what they are doing.” The flavors were extremely clean yet bold. Everything was cooked perfectly. The sauces had all the right flavors – the kinds that only come from sautéing at the perfect temperatures. All the dishes possess the kind of simplicity that makes you think you could cook this yourself. Make no mistake however, it’s not that easy.

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For entrees, we shared the “Livornese seafood stew with Lisbon lemon, grilled bread and aioli” and the “Red wine-braised squab with rainbow chard and liver crostone.” Both hit the spot right on. The dishes have that down home hearty preparation that I absolutely love. The seafood was extremely fresh and the broth it was cooked in was perfectly light and bright to allow the seafood flavors to come forward. The squab was equally excellent.

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For dessert we did the olive oil gelato that was to die for – perfectly plated with a little salt on top to balance the sweetness of the gelato. We also shared a great grilled pineapple with young coconut gelato. Again, I have nothing but compliments for the kitchen.

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I haven’t even mentioned the wines. Sadly, I don’t know a lot about Italian wine. If you’re in the same position as I, you can’t find a better place to dine and learn a bit about what Italy has to offer. They have an impressive wine list and a nice selection of wines by the glass. Additionally they have wine flights (a collection of short pours) where you can get a great variety of wines. All told, we sampled 9 wines and not a single one was bad. That doesn’t happen too often in my experience. I was really grateful for the experience and I’m excited to hit my favorite wine store (K&L) and stock up on some of the new varietals (and producers) I was exposed to through this meal.

Overall, I highly recommend this place. It gets a little loud in the dining room but the staff and food is perfect. I’ll be returning to Incanto as soon as possible.