Tre Piatti

For those that enjoy doing their homework ahead of time, there’s quite a bit of ink online regarding Tre Piatti chef Chanan Kamen and his wife Natalie Aguirre, pastry chef par excellence. After stints around the world—notably a very focussed year in Italy—Chanan met his wife at Quince in San Francisco, which opened a couple of years after I left San Fran so I’ve never had the pleasure of dining in that Michelin-starred emporium. He also worked at Picholine, one of my favorite places in New York (now closed, alas), under the great Terrance Brennan, a chef I greatly admire (truth be told I am a secret chef groupie!). So suffice to say Chanan’s credentials are terrific, and so is his restaurant.

Tre Piatti is very clever in that they change their menu every two weeks. I have favorite places in town but the menu stays the same which does become a bit boring after a while. The format is simple and effective—three choices per courses of antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni and dolci. Tre Piatti loves to do Brussel sprouts and they might turn up in either an antipasti or contorni. Instead of classic vitello tonnato they have pork tonnato, a beloved Italian sauce flavored with tuna and anchovies. I love the mushroom sformato, a cross between a soufflé and a flan. On to the primi column, the pastas are great, Try tagliolini with fresh peas and fava beans, or scialiatielli with tomato, eggplant, basil, and fresh mozzarella or a sea bass ravioli, pappardelle with red wine braised duck, tortellini of gorgonzola with fig compote, the chef loves gorgonzola, rightly so—what a cheese—but a little goes a long way. I think if you went every two weeks you’d probably exhaust most of the _inis and _ettis on the Italian pasta planet!

Classics put in an appearance in the secondi course. Veal Milanese is super—crispy and perfect with a drizzle of lemon—and chicken piccata is right on target. I love the fish dishes too Local sea bass or salmon, usually accompanied with an imaginative puree of some kind, like broccoli or creamed spinach. Veggie lovers could make a meal out of an assortment of the contorni, try building a combo of grilled broccoli with anchovy and breadcrumbs, crispy artichokes with garlic mayo, steamed zucchini with lemon, mint and pine nuts, for example. I do love imaginatively conceived veggie dishes, no smelly boiled cabbage for me. I had my fill of that at school in England! Carnivores may be lucky enough to get a lovely cut of meat, like a ribeye—they cover all their bases here.

Talk about the old adage “life is uncertain, eat dessert first!” For your dolci you simply must indulge. I cannot get beyond the chocolate offerings, bittersweet chocolate torte or their sublime chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips. And on that merry chocolate note, I will bid you a fond adieu.