Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Truffle Menu at Celestino (Pasadena)

Celestino Ristorante in Pasadena is one of six restaurants owned by the four Drago brothers. The one in charge of Celestino is actually Calogero Drago who named the restaurant after the eldest brother.

Unlike the higher end Drago or Drago Centro, Celestino is intimate and rustic. It's a place where you'd feel at home and where by the end of dinner you know that the chef is going truffle hunting in two weeks and that your server's wife just gave birth to their second baby. In like with this feel, Celestino is offering an affordable summer truffle menu, which will be available until around mid or late June. 

The truffle items are available a la carte, but to get the best value order the four course prix fixe for $58! The 4-course menu lets you choose one dish from the truffle antipasti, pasta, and meat/fish menu and finishes with Tartufo ice cream. Considering the a la carte pricing of $15-38, the $58 prix fixe is the way to go.

At Celestino, they stick with traditional recipes. The antipasti selection includes Tuna Carpaccio with Mushrooms and Truffles ($18)
Calogero explained that summer truffle is called bianchetti. These truffles are black on the outside and white on the inside. This was new to me as I'm used to having truffles with something richer, not tuna carpaccio. The mushrooms accentuated the truffles and the combination with tuna was both interesting and delicious.

Soft Polenta with Mushroom in Fontina Cheese and Shaved Black Truffle Sauce ($18)
The consistency of the soft polenta was pretty runny. I'm not sure if this is usual, but we ate it almost like it was soup.

We asked them for a wine to pair with the truffles, and the answer was obvious to the server but surprised us: prosecco! And it was a good pairing indeed.

Ravioli Stuffed with Quail Eggs in Asparagus Sauce with Shaved Truffles ($38)
You know what's better than ravioli stuffed with cheese? Ravioli stuffed with egg! My friend thought the basil was too strong but I personally loved it since I love basil. A cream sauce would've been too much for quail egg-stuffed ravioli but the lighter asparagus sauce worked nicely.

Risotto with Mascarpone Cheese and Shaved Truffle ($34)
The risotto was a bit too salty, but the texture was great. If it had been a little less salty this would be a great dish with strong cheese and truffle flavors.

Veal Scaloppini with Prosciutto, Sage, Provolone Cheese and Truffle ($38)
According to Calogero, this is a traditional preparation from the upper north region of Italy. The prosciutto mimicked a layer of skin to the veal.

Since we were ordering a la carte, I skipped the Tartufo ice cream and asked for my favorite dessert there: the orange ricotta cheesecake.
It was as good as I remembered. The cheesecake was lightly, slightly fluffy, with a subtle taste of orange. I much prefer this to the usual rich, dense cheesecake.

The chef also sent out some rhum baba.

Celestino sticks to rustic, traditional recipes but traditional Italian cuisine is so vast that I'm sure you'd find menu items you've never tried before here. The food may not be the best Italian food in town, but it's solid and the friendly Calogero will make sure you havea good time. If you've ever wanted to indulge in truffles but thought it was too expensive, the $58 menu at Celestino is your chance! If you're not doing the truffle prix fixe menu then I would also suggest my favorite appetizer there: the mushroom soufflé.

141 South Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 795-4006
Celestino on Urbanspoon



YUMMMMMMMM this is torture while i'm on my detox.

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