Keeping at the reviews of our trip to Florida and the St. Pete area, it is time to take a look at our dinner in the gourmet italian restaurant Il Ritorno. Being from Argentina, I normally think of Italian food as pasta and comfort food, like the Nonna or the Mamma would make; in a noisy environment. Il Ritorno is very different to that.
As you can see in the picture, the place looks quiet and intimate, and all the focus is on the food, as the music is not overpowering.
In order to have a better feel of the food and the overall experience we decided on a five course tasting planned by chef David Benstock and the wine pairing.
As an opening (Before the five courses) came a House Focaccia with olive oil. A Very tasty welcome bread.
An extra appetizer: Charred Oysters. This was not a part of the five course meal, but rather an awesome introduction to what was coming.
And now onto the five courses… Course 1: Torched Hamachi: Brussels Sprouts over a slice of hamachi fish. The torch flavor was a great punch for this course. The course was paired with Prosecco, to balance the smokey taste with a sweeter wine.
Course 2: Caprese Salad. This is one of the italian classics reimagined in the way of how to present it; as you can see in the picture. It came paired with the wine Vesevo Beneventano Falanghina IGT from Campania in Italy.
Course 3 “La Pasta”: Short Rib Mezzaluna. Of course, being gourmet italian, there was going to be some pasta. And boy was it good! Filled Pasta with truffle on top, paired with San Felo Sangiovese, from Salento in Italy.
Course 4 The Protein: Panceta Spiced Duck Breast.
I still have dreams about this dish. Duck breast as tender as they come, with zucchinis puree, smoked vegetables and a citric carrot reduction, paired with a full bodied Mocavero Negroamaro wine from Puglia, Italy.
Course 5, The Desser: Aplle Fritter. A Maple and cinammon gelatto over an apple pancake and caramelized pecan nuts. Paired with Montegrande Fior D´Arancio Passito wine from Veneto, Italy.
It was very intersting to share a little chat with our server, Steve, who was also the wine connoisseur, and the one who handpicked the wines to be paired with our dishes, while also explaining us how the decisions were made. (He even talked to us about Argentinian wines. There´s a Primus Malbec from Mendoza in the menu).
The overall experience: Without a doubt one of the best places I´ve ever eaten; not only because of the quality of the dishes in every sense (Ingredients, Production, Presentation, Pairing) as for the attention from the staff, both very professional and warm.
All in all, if you are ever in St. Pete, Florida, do not miss the chance to visit Il Ritorno. I would recommend to first call for a reservation as it gets filled even on Mondays (as we visited).
To close the article, our #SelfieWithTheServer we try to do on every place we are sure we will do a good review for quality and service. In the picture: Dayana, my girlfriend, Steve, the wine guy, Chandler, the server, Erica, the owner of IlRitorno, and me.
If you ever go to Il Ritorno, let me know your opinion in the comments section. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. You can follow me on Twitter or other social media for more Travel Tips and reviews.