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The Gossiping Gourmet: Trattoria is treasure on the Island

February 12, 2013|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Trattoria Mediterranean's Pollo Alla Parmigiana features chicken breast lightly breaded, pan-seared, and oven-baked, topped with tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese and served with cappellini, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
Trattoria Mediterranean's Pollo Alla Parmigiana… (KEVIN CHANG )

Nestled in a tiny storefront on Balboa Island is a new and charming, romantic little bistro called Trattoria Mediterranean. It is a treasure box, with its candlelit atmosphere, the sound of trickling water from the fountain on the terrace and the wrought-iron grillwork of the entryway, secluding this little gem from the hustle and bustle of the street. All this plus the tastefully appointed décor combine to make it a delightful place to dine.

The owners of this new eatery are husband-and-wife team Sean and Elie Dadmand, recently arrived from Canada, where he worked for many years as a manager in Italian restaurants. Elie, who acted as our waitress for the evening, was just delightful — friendly, charming and radiating sweetness.

We ordered some garlic Parmesan bread as we checked out the menu and decided on hummus as a nice starter for a Mediterranean meal. It was prettily presented in a heart shape on a plate, made colorful with lemon, lime, tomato wedges and abstract designs created with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A basket of crispy pita chips was provided for scooping. We found the creamy hummus to be very subtly seasoned, maybe too subtle. We were looking for something more assertive. We solved the problem by putting the spread on the garlic bread.

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From France are unique versions of two traditional salads, including salade aux lardons with baby spinach, roasted tomatoes, cranberries, bacon and caramelized walnuts tossed in a sundried tomato basil dressing topped with crumbled goat cheese. The other is salade au chevre chaud with mixed greens, tomatoes, marinated beets, caramelized walnuts and champagne dressing, topped with a seared goat cheese tart.

The soup of the evening was a delicious fresh chicken broth dotted with carrots and peas. Fennel and fennel fronds gave it a unique flavor that was irresistible. It was also light enough to make a lovely starter without filling you up.

For our Italian pasta course, we selected rigatoni Abruzzese, which came in a very large portion. Fat pasta tubes had been cooked to perfect al dente texture. Wilted spinach leaves, shreds of sundried tomato and pine nuts added texture and subtle accents to a chunky tomato sauce that was just superb! Three of us couldn't finish it all.

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