Chef Peter Lukes has a new, sure-fire winner here
Sixth visit: December 22, 2014
First visit: April 25, 2014
If you are not familiar with Peter Likes’ earlier restaurant offerings (Terra American Bistro and Terra Bistro Italiano on Alameda), then you missed something special. At both incarnations, Pete would often provide a wing-pairing dinners, which were great. I sure hope he brings such wine pairings to Piattini. Please?
The Chase Gang, headed by Bob (a friend of 42 years), and completed by his wife, the lovely Linda (lp) and Barbie, his pulchritudinous sister and I often rove the city looking for outstanding new places in which to eat. We knew and loved Pete’s earlier offerings, and Bistro Piattini was a natural for our latest episode.
Good choice. Phenomenal.
Bistro Piattini is the leading candidate for my prestigious Best Newcomer of 20154 award.
The menu is loosely separated into Piattini “Little Plates” and Grandi Piatti “Large Plates.”
We started with little pates for the Chasr Gang, but I wanted a large plate for the Pescatore. Good choices. If you don’t see a wine on the wine list that will complement your dinner selections, have your server ask Pete for an unpublished wine that he keeps around for this purpose. We did, and he did. It was Antinori Santa Cristina Bianco, medium dry with no oak and gentle melon and berry tones, and was especially good with my Pescatore.
Rice flour dusted and fried with lemon aioli and marinara sauce
The most perfect fried calamari I have ever had. Very lightly fried, and almost butter soft and tender. The marinara is excellent, but my preference is to add a small squeeze of lemon.
Grilled asparagus, prosciutto di parma, balsamic vinaigrette, gorgonzola cheese
This dish is a classic side or appetizer that is often served at Café McGoldrick, where it was one of Jane’s specialties.
Pete does it better. Very tender asparagus and tasty prosciutto. The grape tomatos are a lovely addition.
Beef tenderloin, capers berries, olive oil, cheese crouton, arugula
Bob marveled at this dish. The beef is paper thin, which adds to the excellent taste. This is a classic Italian dish, and Pete hits it out of the park.
Grilled crab and corn cakes with puttanesca sauce and caper mayonnaise
These are loosely similar to those served at Terra American Bistro (Pete’s forerunner of his Terra Bistro Italiano. My friend Gil Garduñ0, Albuquerque’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite, recommended that I try them there.
The version at Piattini is very good. Now it is well known that I really prefer Maryland Crabcakes (and nobody here makes them as well as I do), but I will order Pete’s version again.
Potato gnocchi, clams, mussels, shrimp,
scallops, marinara, pinot grigio, garlic, grape tomatos, chile
This is the very best gnocchi–seafood dishes I have ever had, anyplace, including Italy. The seafood is fresh, tender, and succulent. The garlic, while plentiful, remains sweet, and the pinot grigio-marinara is perfect with just a (correct) hint of acidity.Try a small spoonful of this sauce with a grape tomato, and the tomato will explode in your mouth with an unbelievable taste. Pete Lukes, the owner-chef, told me that this is his personal favorite here. Mine, too.
This dish has earned a place on my coveted Best Dishes of 2014 List.
White wine clam sauce, little neck clams, garlic, Italian parsley
All too often, clams taste like rubber pencil erasers. The clams here are perfect: fresh, tender, juicy, and properly shucked. The white wine sauce is amazing: tasty and not too garlicky. Peter has a way with garlic. It always comes out sweet. This is as good a linguini with clams as you are likely to get anywhere.
Scallop, tuna, shrimp, cucumber, tomato, lime, parsley, basil
Beautifully marinated seafood pieces, this version on ceviche is wonderful. Tender and juicy. We all loved it.
Italiano? Because it has basil in it, so said our server.
Rotisserie half chicken, rosemary, piccata sauce, served atop a bed of tender asparagus
This half of a chicken is gently cooked to s slightly crispy brown and covered with rosemary and a piccata sauce (lemon, garlic or shallots and herbs). The organic free-range chicken is very tender and moist.
My good friend, the pulchritudinous Marjorie Sons, allows that this is the best Italian version of chicken that she has ever had.
Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Vichyssoise
his was the piatto del giorno on the day that another good friend, the pulchritudinous Deanell Collins, and I had lunch at Piattini.
This soup is rich and creamy as a good Vichyssoise should be. The addition of the red peppers set this combination well above my expectations. Superb.
Mascarpone laced, espresso cream
This is not like the traditional tiramisu that you will get in other places, but a bundt cake with all the traditional flavorings. The mascarpone espresso cream gave the cake a lovely moist texture without making it soggy. This is a welcome change, and I highly recommend it.
Have a cup of delicious cappuccino with it.
I did not dare taste the other desserts lest I throw a sugar fit (I must restrict sugars. Drat. But the Chase Gang dug in with gusto, and moans of OMG filled the air. Next time I may have what they were having.
Tradizionali crème brûlée with biscotti
fruit crisp with vanilla ice cream
Chocolate-brownie cake, chocolate auce
And don’t forget to finish off with the great cappuccino.
For a recent addition to the Albuquerque dining scene, Bistro Piattini is a welcome addition. Pete and his highly capable staff are wizards. And the service is exemplary. I intend to put it on my regular rotation. Please join me.