North Fork Restaurant Review: A Touch of Venice, Cutchogue

Touch of Venice restaurant is located right on the Main Road in Cutchogue. This European-style eatery boasts a beautifully restored interior, complete with an impressive wine room and outdoor seating for those delicious summer evenings.

Father-son chef team Ettore and Brian Pennacchia are committed to keeping the food authentic Italian in flavor, while incorporating the abundant bounty surrounding them.

We started our culinary journey with an appetizer special—Speck and Asiago Salad. Speck is a dry-cured, smoked ham, this particular one imported from a region in northern Italy. The salty flavor of the ham—similar to prosciutto but with more smokiness—paired well with the nutty, aged asiago cheese. The salad was served with a mustard balsamic dressing, sweet with a bite, and adorned with tart cornichons. The combination was surprisingly delicious. The trick to get the perfect bite is to get a little bit of every bold flavor on your fork—speck, asiago, cornichon, frisée with the dressing.

Next we sampled the impressive Burrata cheese platter. I love Burrata cheese, and if you’ve never had it, what are you waiting for? Burrata—which means, “buttered” in Italian—has a hard shell of mozzarella and both cream and mozzarella on the inside. You can actually spread it on the giant pieces of grilled bread that accompany the platter—hence the name—and then you top it with the colorful and vibrant accouterments offered: roasted garlic, preserved lemon, sundried tomatoes, arugula.

One of my all-time favorite appetizers ever came next—an enormous, piping hot stuffed artichoke. Opened like an exotic flower, the leaves of the artichoke were overflowing with the breadcrumb-garlic-parmesan mixture; resting in a broth so delicious I can still smell it when I think on it. We ate the artichoke down to the heart, and then ate that too with the breadcrumbs that had fallen into the broth. This is one of those dishes that brings me back to my own Italian grandmother’s kitchen—artichokes were her specialty and a staple at family gatherings—especially for my birthday. This version by the Chefs Pennacchia is so authentic, so meltingly delicious; I can’t wait to go back for another. A must-have when you visit.

Pasta courses followed—first, a Tagliatelle pasta accompanied by locally grown mushrooms in a light vegetable broth, topped with shaved parmesan. Earthy and delicious, the star of this dish was the mushrooms. Next came Garganelli pasta—a pasta similar to penne—with vibrant broccoli rabe and sundried tomatoes in a light, garlicky broth.

Our entrée choices included the Veal Rollatini. Tender pieces of veal are wrapped with Prosciutto, mozzarella and pecorino cheeses, and cooked with a heavenly, creamy marsala wine sauce. A delicious homemade rice ball is served alongside, crunchy on the outside and perfectly creamy and smooth on the inside. A classic perfected.

Off the evening’s special menu, we ordered the Sicilian Pork Ragu. The pork shoulder is braised in a merlot-tomato sauce, served over fresh pappardelle pasta and garnished with currants and pignoli nuts. The pork was so tender it nearly melted in my mouth, and the sauce was robust and flavorful. The currants and pignoli added texture and subtle sweet and nutty accent flavors, a truly Sicilian dish that certainly pleased my palate.

For dessert we had a tiramisu that made my taste buds dance. The layers of espresso-dipped ladyfingers were encased in the most delicious cloudlike filling of sweetened mascarpone. Otherworldly. For those of you with less of a sweet tooth, try the grapefruit shortbread—tart and only slightly sweet, this dessert was a surprise new favorite.

The warm, friendly, knowledgeable staff at A Touch of Venice made it a pleasure to dine and the talented father-son chef team is inspiring and fortuitous for all of us East End foodies.

A Touch of Venice is located at 28350 Main Road, Cutchogue, 631-298-5851. Visit touchofvenice.com for more information.

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