Cafe Gabbiano Brings the Funky Umami for Truffle Season

Todays News

Photo taken by Andrew Fabian

Like oysters or stinky cheeses, the appeal of truffles makes no sense. Its flavor—pungent and earthy like a sulfurous bog—defies expectations as it elevates pastas, potatoes or eggs. Difficult to harvest, more difficult to cultivate and subject to ruination at the hands of even the most subtle climate changes, truffles enjoy a prized spot in a restaurant’s refrigerator, fetching top dollar on account of their short supply and high demand. So, when a restaurant takes a leap and orders the pricey fungus, it had better know what it’s doing. 

Café Gabbiano knows what it’s doing. 

Their seasonal acquisition of white truffles from Italy’s Piedmont region inspires some specials while also transforming their already-savory selection of pastas prepared by Chef Paolo Di Costanzo of Ischia. A special crostini appetizer comes topped with poached pear slices, melted brie cheese, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, a dash of cinnamon and some crushed walnuts. But the white truffle shavings take this to another level, first by hitting the olfactory nerves and then by jazzing up the flavor profile with that funky umami.  

A ravioli comes stuffed with caciocavallo cheese (similar in taste to provolone) and black truffle pate and is then tossed in a butter and sage sauce before grated white truffles make their way into the nooks and crannies of the plating. To accentuate the umami without overshadowing the distinct flavor of the truffles, say “yes” when the server offers fresh parmesan cheese. The pasta comes cooked perfectly al dente and the whole dish is as rich as the soils from which the truffles were harvested. Finally, a veal scallopini takes the restaurant’s basic preparation and lifts it to new heights. The veal, breaded and topped with melted mozzarella cheese, comes topped with wild shiitake mushrooms, known to have high glutamate numbers (main compound behind umami). Served with a side of parmesan risotto, the meat entrée seems to take the shaved white truffles to their loftiest conclusion. 

For anyone interested in achieving culinary nirvana and who has some extra cash to burn, the restaurant offers extra truffle to the tune of $8/gram. Sommelier Marc Grimaud admiringly recalled a recent guest that topped their pasta with eight grams of white truffles. Don’t reach for a calculator, that’s $64 in truffles. So, grab your piggy banks and call ahead to make sure they managed to get a shipment in from Italy. White truffle season runs through December.

Photo taken by Andrew Fabian

Café Gabbiano, 5104 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 941-359-1423

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