Valentine’s Day at Ristorante 515
Posted by Shannon on 02/16/2012
My Valentine’s Day dinner was delightful, romantic and without annoying wait staff or horrific L.A. traffic. I spent Valentine’s Day with Steve at Ristorante 515. A small spot in Redondo…located in my very own dining room. I never knew it existed until I arrived home from work and walked into my apartment! The entire place was spotlessly clean, roses adorned the table, music played in the background, and more than a dozen candles lit the dining room. Walking toward the table, I saw Ristorante 515’s custom menu for the evening. The entire dinner was prepared & planned specifically with all of my favorites in mind. As my friend Evan summed it up after hearing about my V-day, “I’m nominating Steve for the boyfriend of the year award.”
Steve was in the kitchen finishing up the antipasto dish of caprese insalata as I sat down.
He opened a bottle of wine as I looked at the roses in front of me. They were perfectly blooming, just like last year. I realized there were two, and he said it symbolized our second Valentine’s day together. Heart…melting.
Ristorante 515’s caprese insalata was composed of arugula dressed in balsamic vinegar with fresh mozzarella and the oven roasted Roma tomatoes he wooed me with on our second date ever, when he invited me over for dinner at his house. Every element of the salad is my favorite, down to the green he selected.
I looked over at the menu and even though there were many Italian words I couldn’t decipher…I knew what the second course was at first glance. Cacio e pepe, my absolute favorite pasta dish! We had this in December at Rustic Canyon during Steve’s birthday, and the experience is what sparked my cacio e pepe love. It’s also quite entertaining to say aloud when you put some gusto behind it and pair it with an Italian accent. The texture of al dente pasta mixed harmoniously with sharp pepper, rich-tasting Pecorino Toscano and warm olive oil.
The devil is in the details of this pasta. Using high quality pasta, olive oil and cheese (the three main ingredients of this dish) make a world of difference because there are so few items used to prepare this.
There were so many small details of the “restaurant” and the meal that showed Steve’s genuine effort towards planning and timing our dinner. It was perfect and the continual details and surprises weren’t lost on me. I love Steve day after day and his consideration on this particular holiday is one of many occurrences during the year.
The third course was ox tail stew. That afternoon, he was already busy starting the mirepoix and red wine base that he braised and roasted the ox tails amongst. Aromatic, delicious and no knife needed to eat them. The vegetables and wine reduced down to the flavorful sauce that the ox tails absorbed to create an even more flavor-packed stew. This dish is terrific in the winter because it warms your house as it slow roasts in the oven… releasing a tempting scent the entire time. I hope that some of you consider making it for yourself sometime soon.
Like I’ve said before, a good chef always cleans up after him/herself. During and in between dishes, Steve was clearing and cleaning so that by the time we sat for our fourth course… a dessert of vanilla gelato with chocolate and caramel swirls… there were no dishes to do.
I felt 100% special and completely loved this Valentine’s day as I drifted off into a comfortable slumber that night.