My wife and I decided to head down to Walnut Creek’s best Italian ristorante, Prima, to once again visit our good friend and Prima bar manager, Gwyneth Hogarth. She has been good to me in the past and I knew there was plenty of new wine by the glass that she’d want to throw my way, and I was more than happy to oblige her.
But the thing is, more than just wine, this place is a food lover’s mecca. We had a dinner that was so good, it almost made me blush.
On top of several tastings (a rose sparkling, four whites, and five reds), Gwyn hooked up a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino that rocked my socks (all of these, by the way, are coming in review form forthwith). We also sampled a handful of the dishes available on their appetizer menu.
First up was one we didn’t order, and if you know people in the restaurant business, you know damn well that if they bring you something unplanned, you eat it. No questions asked, because it will be good. While I’m not a huge asparagus fan, the Grilled Asparagus with Goat Cheese Fonduta and Fried Quail Eggs was completely ridiculous. The vegetables were seasoned just right, the eggs were fried exactly as I like them, and the fonduta was an amazingly creamy—yet simultaneously not too heavy—cheese sauce.
Then we decided to place a couple orders ourselves. First up was the Seared Ahi Crostone with Caper Mayonnaise, Watercress, Avocado and Spring Relish… just let that sink in for a second. To be honest, the thing that most amazed me was the mix of superbly seared Ahi tuna with avocado. New to me, and I’ve had lots of seared Ahi dishes from lots of fine restaurants. The fattiness of both pieces worked together excellently, as they are both fatty in that “good-for-you-feeling” way, not at all like, for instance, the fattiness of a porterhouse steak.
Next up, we had Pizzetta with Fontina, Radicchio and Speck. Speck, if you aren’t aware, is smoked prosciutto, in this case from Alto Adige. Freaking phenomenal, the pizzeta included a bit of sautéed radicchio and was thinner than Iggy Pop after a heroin binge.
Last, but not least, Gwyn surprised us yet again, this time with Candy Wrapper Ravioli Filled with Braised Oxtail in Sugo.
Just stop reading, get your butt to Walnut Creek if even remotely possible, and make a reservation at Prima. The braised oxtail ravioli was absolutely to die for. Not only was it incredible on its own, but paired with the Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino we were drinking at the time, it came closest to the finest pairing of food and wine I have ever had the privilege of experiencing.
Did this post come off as bragging a bit? I don’t care. Meals like this don’t come along all that often, and if you’ve begun to salivate, then you only owe it to yourself to try it out.
Prima Ristorante (1522 North Main Street, Walnut Creek, CA) is just 26 miles (about 30 minutes) from Oakland International Airport.
Yes, I am suggesting you fly in to try it.
(photo: salaciously stolen from the Prima Vini website, but I know them, and frankly I don’t think they’ll mind, given the use here)