it's okay to play with your food

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Carpaccio @ Girasole

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Italians are big teases, or so says Franco Iovino, owner of Girasole in the Symphony House at Broad and Pine. And no, he wasn’t referring to matters of amore, but rather his carpaccio, delicately sliced raw beef or fish that tickle your palate before melting in your mouth. The point isn’t to gorge yourself on the blue fin tuna with salty olives and sun dried tomatoes, or the filet mignon with crisp arugala and shavings of Parmigiano cheese, but to enjoy the moment, trusting that something else delicious is sure to follow.

“Mediterranean” is how Girasole describes its cuisine. It is decidedly Italian, with dishes touching upon multiple regions. Almost everything is made in-house, including their pasta, desserts, crudo and carpaccio. Their cheeses come from
Claudio’s in the Italian Market. Dessert options change daily, and can include a mille crêpe filled with marron glacé sauce or zuccotto, a semi-freddo dotted with candied nuts and chunks of chocolate.

The carpaccio and crudo selections stand out on the Girasole menu. Il crudo refers to raw seafood “cooked” in marinades of citrus juice and olive oil, like ceviche. Girasole offers both caldo (warm) or freddo (cold) carpaccio, thin slices of octopus, blue fin tuna, bronzino or filet mignon. Capers, slices of fresh peppers or tiny bits of grapefruit or avocado serve as garnish.

Girasole is Italian for sunflower and the restaurant takes its name seriously, with fresh sunflowers dotting the bar and a painting of a sunflower field along one wall. Benches along the wall are swathed in ultra-luxe burnished gold Versace fabrics. More Versace fabric dressings hang from the ceiling. The bar greets you when you enter, with the dining room just beyond it. They are planning additional outdoor seating on Pine Street for the summer.

Taking advantage of
its prime position on the Avenue of the Arts, Girasole caters to the theater crowd. They are open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, a perfect post-show spot for dessert or a cocktail. They also offer a three-course prix fixe theater menu Sunday through Friday. Thirty-five dollars gets you three courses, including coffee with dessert. This is in addition to their lunchtime prix-fixe, two- courses priced at $19.95.

And yes, the carpaccio freddo is available on the prix-fixe!

Photo credit by Albert Lee

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