This weather means one thing. Time to get cozy. It’s easy to complain as the temperatures drop, but these chilly days make comfort food and cuddling all the more appealing. The Bubble has put together a short list of three restaurants that will help you take care of both.
Before eating here, Italy hadn’t quite made it to the top of my travel list, but after visiting La Locanda I found myself searching flights and browsing Tripadvisor. Because if Italy is anything like this one dinner, then I can’t wait to eat my way through it.
They’ve just revamped their menu for winter, but I would come back for a meal in any season. La Locanda, located on a cobblestone street a few blocks from the Recoleta cemetery, manages to feel intimate and familiar while still striking an elegant note for those eating within its doors. Daniele Pinna, the owner, is originally from Alghero, Sardinia, and draws his inspiration as well as the many imported products used in his dishes, from his home city. He sat down and discussed the menu with everyone who walked in, debating with an older couple in beautiful Italian about which entree to choose.
After a sweet, almost tangy bruschetta we turn to see Daniele hauling out a blowtorch, a wood block, and a half a wheel of cheese and starts toasting the top layer before he scrapes this savory, smoky buffalo cheese goodness onto crunchy toast for an appetizer.
The mushroom risotto was creamy, savory, and keeps you thinking, trying to figure out the different flavors. The main dish, a Brotola, is served in a foil packet simply, but packed in a remarkable amount of flavor and was accompanied by aw worthy array of batata and eggplant topped with a zest lemon sauce. Fish doesn’t strike me as inherently wintery, but when the warm, steaming packet is delivered to your table, it evokes something of a Francis-Mallmann-in-Patagonia-feel. Menu choices change daily “depending on what is available” says Daniele, but other choices on the winter menu include homemade chorizo with mushrooms and grilled octopus with potatoes, arugula, and olives. Special extra-cozy mains include options like wild boar gnocchi and buffalo ravioli.
La Locanda is worth visiting for the chocolate mousse alone. Daniele brings the mousse to the table, pours a quarter cup of Extra Virgin olive oil in the middle, and tops it with Himalayan and Jamaican salt for a fascinating savory-sweet-chocolatey flavor experience. My French eating mate, a self-proclaimed food snob, says it was the best mousse she has ever eaten. Prices come in at a fair ARS 150 for appetizers (appropriate for sharing) and around ARS 200 for entrees. Given the combination of food, attention, and charm, it is well worth it.
Address: José León Pagano 2697, Recoleta
If La Locanda is the Italian star of Recoleta, then L’Adesso is its slightly more posh, more reserved Palermo cousin. L’Adesso’s simpler, classic feel doesn’t force Italy in your face, but showcases some of the best Italian flavors in a sophisticated atmosphere. Their relatively small dining room fills up, even early on a weekday, so reservations are a good idea.
We were welcomed by bruschetta followed by fried calamari, subtly sweet ricotta and flavorful, steamed asparagus. For entree options, the Pappardelle with wild boar was a classic done well, and the sea bream had simple, roasted tomatoes to accompany it, and was oily in a good way. Prices seemed appropriate – around ARS 250 average for an entree or appetizers to share.
As for drinks, warm up with some aperitivos like a negroni — on the strong side — tangy campari naranja, or an extensive list of Italian and Argentine wines. Side note: L’Adesso’s wait staff are extremely helpful in finding the right wine to pair with your food and budget. We tried a delicious citrusy Argentine Chardonnay, followed by a smooth Malbec from the Valle de Uco, which went well with the wild boar.
Other winter menu standouts are things like rabbit with herbs, dried fruit and olives with rosemary mashed potatoes or mushroom lamb. There was something seemingly self-assured about the offerings. Straightforward, these winter classics were prepared with quality and heart. Almost as if the chef knew the food he was serving was of a caliber that he had nothing to prove by adding a strange new twist or fusion to it.
This theme continues to the very end of the meal. If nothing else, leave room for dessert. It is legitimately outstanding. They offer traditional classics like tiramisu and creamy, crunchy cannolis to more interesting options cashew gelato topped with shaved Parmesan.
Address: Fray Justo Sta. Maria de Oro 2047, Palermo
And for something completely different but just as cozy, La Pastronería is a solid choice for warm, salty pastrami, quality wine, and gluten free everything. A product of Celigourmet, everything on the menu – with the exception of most of the wine and beer – is guaranteed to be gluten-free, so gluten-intolerant and celiac eaters in the city can have in on the savory pastrami fun as well.
ARS 150 pesos initially seemed high for the classic pastrami sandwich, but when your plate is platter-sized and comes with a deconstructed sandwich, rustic coleslaw, half a baked potato with — could it be?? yes! —sour cream, sweet pickles, and honey mustard, it all feels worth it. More an artistic interpretation of a sandwich than an actual sandwich, a falling-apart tender chunk of 150 grams of pastrami rested on top of a half a loaf of buttery (surprisingly gluten-free), toasted french bread.
I couldn’t imagine eating at a place named after Pastrami and not trying their specialty, but just in case, they offer multiple variations on Pastrami including a Pastrami plate (sans the gluten-free bread) and different cuts of pastrami-ed meat, plus salads and different types of sandwiches.
I can only imagine the joy that a gluten-intolerant eater would experience after finishing their salty, savory pastrami deliciousness and biting into the luxurious looking chocotorta. They also offer completely gluten-free cakes, pies, and luxurious-looking brownies to start off your winter hibernation.
Pair these meals with a solid siesta, and winter won’t feel so dreary after all.
Address: El Salvador 6026, Palermo