Occasionally, at DorpatSherrardLomont, we come across treasures we feel compelled to share with our readers – often photographic, historical, or quirky – but this is our first culinary treasure: Trattoria Cioppino, opened since late last spring, is the real deal; an Italian jewel on Green Lake’s north end (just across Green Lake Way from the wading pool).
This lovely, welcoming little eatery boasts a mouth-watering menu with dishes that are eyes-rolled-back-in-the-head delicious. Jean has, in short order, become a regular, and finds an excuse to return for more as often as possible. To excerpt his Yelp review, the food is delicious in a way that “reaches down to some well-spring of deliciousness” combined with “gorgeous, no-nonsense preparation.”
From the spectacular calamari appetizer – tender, crisp, with a knock-out aoli for dipping (only $8 for a generous serving that satisfies four) – to mains including melt in the mouth gnocchi with succulent and tender boneless short ribs ($14); perfectly seared and savory duck breast with figs; delicate spectacular veal marsala ($17); and a cioppino that blows the roof off, mussels, clams, baby octopuses, and scallops flawlessly cooked and artfully arranged around a slab of buttery moist salmon (enough to feed two, $23).
Not to mention the desserts, all made in-house by Chef Riccardo, ranging from a mouth-watering chocolate vesuvius, to glorious cheesecake with figs, an amazing tiramisu, and a stunning creme brulee. Give me strength! In four visits so far, Jean hasn’t had a dish anything less than delightful.
If it isn’t clear by now, this is a place we’ve come to adore.
Chef Simeone, originally from the Italian town of Gaeta, has cooked in major restaurants across the country. Trattoria Cioppino is his first foray into ownership (along with business partner Silvia McDowell). Watching this gentle, warm-hearted culinary master at work is a pleasure in itself, and his kitchen, open to the restaurant, offers a close-up view of his artistry, skill, and dedication.
And we do mean dedication. Every new restaurant is a gamble; inspiration and great food are only a couple of the (necessary) ingredients – the recipe for success demands more: non-stop hard work and brutal hours. Jean, seeing Chef Simeone running the kitchen at each visit, asked him what his hours were. Riccardo shrugged and smiled resignedly. “I am here every day all day since last May. I don’t take a break. If I get sick, we close. So I don’t get sick.”
A wonderful wait staff, great food, warm atmosphere – what a pleasure to have an addition like this in the neighborhood!