Advertisement

The Gossiping Gourmet: Warmth and authenticity at Romeo Cucina

June 15, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Culinary artistry at its best is seen in this spumoni at Romeo Cucina in Laguna Beach.
Culinary artistry at its best is seen in this spumoni at… (DON LEACH, HB Independent )

Since our last visit to the Italian restaurant Romeo Cucina, it has had a touch up and so has the menu.

The capacious room has a warm and inviting ambiance with its wood-burning oven as a focal point. The space is nicely lit and has an uncrowded feeling. A few booths have been added and the walls are painted a pleasant Etruscan red. There's a lively bar toward the rear and an eat-in-bar surrounding the glowing brick pizza oven. Diners may also enjoy eating on the small outdoor patio facing the street.

In its early days, Romeo had a bakery on site but even though it is long gone, they still serve an excellent Italian loaf, warm from the oven with a nice chewy crust and a tasty crumb, which they pair with one of the better olivadas around — briny, garlick-y and full of deep olive flavor.

New to us was a lovely seafood appetizer called tutto pesce. It was an unusual pairing of tuna "tartara" with good quality smoked salmon, capers and toast points. The inventive "tartara" combined rough-chopped tuna with lightly marinated rock shrimp in a very tasty lemon, olive oil dressing with just the right amount salt, enhancing all the flavors. Alfalfa sprouts provided the garnish.

Advertisement

Another nice appetizer is the mini-charcuterie plate called Toscano e Burrata with pecorino and burrata cheeses, bresaola and sopressata (preserved meats) plus cherry tomatoes, a sweet fig balsamic dressing and crostini.

Of course having a pizza is la cosa da fare (the thing to do). We wanted a simple one so we could analyze the various basic elements. We chose the funghi selvaggi that boasted oyster, shitake and wild mushrooms with mozzarella. We were dazzled by the perfect crust: thin, blistered, flavorful on its own and crispy all the way to the center. It was brushed with a very simple tomato sauce, as they do in Italy but then smothered with too much cheese in the American style. We never found any oyster or shitakes and the brown criminis that were there were not abundant. We also lament the passing of the fontina cheese that they used to add for complexity. Nevertheless, that crust made it all worthwhile.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles
|
|
|