Sunday, September 4, 2011

Nostrano Means Local!

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Seafood Brodetto
As quoted in their website and Italian-English dictionary, Nostrano means local and they do mean local with plenty fresh ingredients from nearby markets.  My first dish was the Seafood Brodetto and it was truly love at first taste.  Not like other seafood soup, Nostrano's Seafood Brodetto has it all.  The tomato-fennel broth is amazing.  It had a savory sweetness, crisp tang, and a bit of a kick from the chile oil.  I could have just only eaten the broth with the perfectly grilled bread and had been fully satisfied.  But they hooked it up with an abundance of seafood: yelloweye snapper, variety of shellfish, and squid.  I thought I would never say this, but this soup got it going on!  This is the best seafood brodetto I've ever had.

Smoked Pork Shank Sandwich
The Seafood Brodetto was amazing, unfortunately I can't say the same about the Smoked Pork Shank Sandwich.  I liked most every ingredient except for one, which was the main ingredient, the pork.  The giardiniera was great with a little kick and sourness, the greens fresh, whole grain mustard flavorful with spice, and the focaccia (flat oven-baked Italian bread) crunchy yet smooth.  So where did it go wrong?  The pork did not have a smoke flavor I was looking for, it had a very strong salty taste.  The bread, veggies, cheese had no chance to come out over the overly salted pork.  Unfortunately, for the sake of my taste buds, I would not be trying this dish again.
Tomato Bruschetta
The menu listed English Pea Bruschetta with fresh mozzarella, marcona almonds, pea shoots, and grilled sourdough; though since they were out of the peas, we had tomatoes to substitute and I must say I truly enjoy the revised bruschetta with tomatoes.  It was a very smart move to keep the tomatoes and mozzarella in big slices like a caprese instead of the familiar diced tomatoes.  It added a lot of body and texture to each bite.  The basil and watercress was a perfect complement to each other, with a bit of spice and tang without overpowering other flavors.  A unique tasty bruschetta; no regrets missing out on the English peas.
Nostrano definitely focus on creativity and bringing different flavors to the table.  They show this through their dishes and also their dessert.  The torta contained chocolate-hazlenut sponge, coffee, mousse, maple agrodolce (sweet and sour), coconut gelato (egg shape in picture).  It is what it sounds like, "a lot going on."  This dessert is unique as it contains many texture and flavor; layered with soft and thick chocolate, smooth and rich flavors; crush nuts and silk gelato, crunchy and melty.  Now put it all together and you have everything in one bite.

111 South Hamilton Street, Madison, WI

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