More style than substance
Dinner Sunday night in Napa with the Rip (Mike Rippey). He chose a place he likes, Ca’ Momi. I don’t have any idea what that name means. It’s not the only thing I don’t understand about the place.
Ca’ Momi is painfully hip. Thick wooden tables, old fashioned incandescent lights, an over size menu written in impenetrable Italian, often lacking decent English explanations of what the food is. And this absurd statement on the bottom:
OUT OF RESPECT FOR ITALIAN GASTRONOMY
~AND OUR GRANDMAS~
WE RESPECTFULLY DECLINE REQUESTS FOR SUBSTITUTIONS & MODIFICATIONS.
What self respecting nonna wouldn’t substitute the sausage for the meatballs if her little darling wanted it? I can and do get menu substitutions in Italy, but not in Napa, it would seem. The absurd pretension of the menu had me in a twit even before the orders were taken.
The order taking was the best part. We had a delightful waitress who was full of however you say ‘joie de vivre’ in Italian. She raced over to our table to welcome us as we sat down, just to say hi. She was happy and excited and described and explained everything that the menu failed to.
I tried to order the gnudi as an appetizer, but our perky waitress didn’t believe me so she didn’t write it down. Gnudi were described as potato dumplings without the potato. So is a ham sandwich, I suppose. They were supposed to be composed of spinach and ricotta cheese, but I may never know now. If only I sounded more convincing when I said things like “We’ll try the gnudi to start.”
Mike had the ‘stinco al forno con patate; oven roasted pork shank with potatoes. Gotta love it when they’re brave enough to name a dish “stinco”
Looked good. Gail stole one of his spuds and said it was great.
Gail had the rigatoni con coda alla vaccinara, ox tail stew on rigatoni with red sauce.
By sheer coincidence I made an ox tail stew last week. This one was hugely better. Maybe not great, but good enough to take home the leftovers.
I ordered the gnocchi al gorgonzola, speck & noci, potato gnocchi with ham and walnuts and gorgonzola cream sauce. I asked in advance to be sure that I was getting gnocchi with some sauce, not a bowl of sauce with a couple of gnocchi, and the proportions were just right.
I liked the sauce and the ham and the walnuts. The gnocchi themselves had very little texture, tasting more like creamy mashed Idahos formed into little marshmallow shapes. Getting them right is an art, one of the hardest things in Italian cooking.
You can get either black or green ice tea. But the only sweetener is Stevia, in keeping with the foodie/green/hip/slick/cool trendy pretensions of this restaurant. I love it when they think they have to give me their idea of what is good for me, not what I want. Kind of like being in the 2nd grade all over again.
Overall, I guess I like the place, but I’m not wild about it. I think they need to put more effort into the food and less into the psychobabble/newspeak hifalutin’ wordiness of their menu and mission statement. Presentation beats pretension every day of the week.