As San Diego Restaurant Week nears, I’ve been visiting participating restaurants to find out what they have in store for you. Last night we visited Vivace at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad. We visited this remarkable place earlier this year and still carry very fond memories of that amazing evening. I was convinced they couldn’t top themselves. I was dead wrong.
From the moment you enter, the service is gracious and attentive. Our hostess welcomed us, and then gave us a tour, asking us where we would like to sit. We chose a table with a sofa and it was incredibly comfortable. Adan, our server was quick to introduce himself and offer us a choice of waters and Prosecco. While we were enjoying Prosecco and San Pellegrino bubbly water, another server brought an amuse bouche of New York strip on crostini with a dab of whipped Gorgonzola. Next, a basket of focaccia with parmesan, rolls and a garlic infused olive oil with sea salt appeared. Again, realizing a lot of food would be coming, I limited myself to one slice. I easily could have devoured the entire basket.
We pored over the menu, each item sounding more delicious than the next. Adan offered several suggestions and recommended we opt for the Adagio menu which includes two items from the antipasto menu, a pasta and an entrée. From the antipasto menu I chose the Kanpachi crudo con pesca e sale nero, with Kanpachi, peach, sea bean, Fresno chili, pickled onion and Hawaiian salt. Kat selected the insalata vegetale con formaggio di Capra – shaved market vegetables, Laura Chenel goat cheese and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Both were plated magnificently and absolutely delicious.
For the second appetizer, Kat chose asparaghi grigliata con fuoco a legnà – wood-grilled asparagus with speck ham, black truffle vinaigrette and a farm egg. I opted for Salsicia di Coniglio con Uova di Quaglia – rabbit sausage with a corona bean purée, nectarine and a quail egg. Adan suggested the Duckhorn Migration Pinot Noir for me. Chef de Cuisine Kevin McCarthy stopped by to see if we were being taken care of properly. Chef Kevin started at The Fountain at The Four Seasons in Philadelphia, a five-star restaurant, working himself up from a line cook, and transferred here eight years ago. He calls his menu interpretive Italian, using produce from local farms adding a unique, modern and upscale twist to Italian fare. His fall menu is just a few weeks away.
For our pasta course, I selected the Agnolotti di Foie Gras – a foie gras agnolotti with Chanterelle mushrooms, duck confit, English peas and Pecorino. I figured I should enjoy a taste of foie gras before California decides to ban it again. Kat went with Ravioli con Formaggio di Capra – goat cheese ravioli with tomato fonduta, Bloomsdale spinach and eggplant agrodulce. The attention to detail here is nothing short of remarkable. Each bite was a sensation on the palate and a joy to behold.
We were wondering where we could possibly find room for an entrée, but somehow we did. Kat went with a special, a wood-fired sea bass. I love lamb and rarely have it so I chose Carre d’Agnello e Gnocchi ala Romana – wood-fire roasted lamb loin with baby spinach, smoked eggplant, Roman gnocchi and lamb belly ragout. Adan chose a Banfi Toscana for me and the Walt Pinot Noir for Kat. I have tremendous admiration for those who will pair a red wine with fish. The pairing worked to perfection.
I knew I wanted something light for dessert, so I went with a couple of sorbets – a limoncello strawberry and a passion fruit with fresh berries. Kat chose a limoncello tiramisu with white chocolate. Vivace was spelled out in white on a red background on the white chocolate. We enjoyed a Malvasia dessert wine with them.
San Diego Restaurant Week begins Sunday September 24 and runs through October 1. Vivace is offering a three course special menu for $50. You truly can’t go wrong there. I’ve dined at fine restaurants the world over and this is easily in my top ten favorites. 7100 Aviara Resort Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92011 Call (760) 603 3773 for reservations.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701! Ask about special discounts.