Torinos’ @ Home

Expect the unexpected—that’s what you’ll get.

Seventeenth visit: August 23, 2013
First visit: February  25, 2012 

Patio Panorama

Maxime and Daniela Bouneou

Torinos’ @ Home is Maxime and Daniela Bouneou’s family-owned and operated Italian restaurant. I think it is spectacular. On our first visit, it rocketed to the number 5 spot on my Top Ten List. It’s that good. 

Every dish is made from scratch with only the freshest and highest quality ingredients and no MSG. They  pride themselves in using local produce and vendors wherever possible.

Daniela Bouneou, is the vivacious hostess and co-owner of Torinos’ @ Home, and is generally the first smiling face that you will see upon entering the door. Smile back; it’s going to be a happy visit.

My Favorite Corner

Maxime is an award-inning head chef and French husband to Daniella. He  typically stays behind the scenes, but that is where the magic happens with his memorable signature and traditional creations. Each dish is simply perfection in presentation and taste. His masterful versatility and experience as one of the best pastry chefs in the country shows, with the delicious dessert menu. Every creation on the menu is special and begs to be savored over and over again. Maxime makes each meal a memory that you will want to experience for yourself. The flavors are intense.

This is not a red-sauce-Italian restaurant. Far from it. The style of the cuisine is predominantly Piedmontese of  Northern Italy.

Piedmont Region

Nestled between the Alps and the Po valley, with a large number of different ecosystems, this region offers the most refined and varied cuisine of the Italian peninsula. Point of union of traditional Italian and French cuisine, Piedmont is the Italian region with the largest number of cheeses Protected Geographical Status and wines Denominazione di origine controllata. It is also the region where both Slow Food association and the most prestigious school of Italian cooking, the University of Gastronomic Sciences, were founded.
Gianduiotto chocolate, with its distinctive shape, is a speciality of Turin.

Map of Piedmont

Map of Piedmont

Piedmont is a region where gathering nuts, funghi, cardoons and hunting and fishing takes place. Truffles, garlic, seasonal vegetables, cheese and rice are all used. Wines from the Nebbiolo grape such as Barolo and Barbaresco are produced as well as wines from the Barbera grape, fine sparkling wines, and the sweet, lightly sparkling, Moscato d’Asti. The region is also famous for its Vermouth and Ratafia production. Castelmagno is a prized cheese of the region. Piedmont is also famous for the quality of its Carrù beef, hence the tradition of eating raw meat seasoned with garlic oil, lemon and salt, the famous Brasato al vino, wine stew made from marinated beef, and boiled beef served with various sauces. The most typical of the Piedmont tradition are its traditional agnolotti (pasta folded over with a roast beef meat and vegetable stuffing), taglierini (thinner version of tagliatelle), bagna cauda (sauce of garlic, anchovies, olive oil and butter) and bicerin (hot drink made of coffee, chocolate and whole milk). Finally Piedmont is one of the Italian capitals of pastry and chocolate in particular, with products like Nutella, gianduiotto and marron glacé that are famous worldwide.

Our menu

We arrived a little early and went into the attached gift and food shop where Daniela spied us, introduced herself with her infectious smile. and led us to a table with a view of everyone entering and leaving the place. Great people watching spot. We came here especially for Maxime’s Osso Buco, a special that night, and one of my all-time favorite dishes. Here’s the rest.

Bread and Herbed Oil

Bread with Herbed Virgin Olive Oil
This basket of fresh bread arrived at the table nearly as soon as we did. It is great bread. Soft, sweet, and slightly yeasty with a slightly chewy crust, it was difficult to stop eating it. The herbed oil was just right: not overpowering with herbs, but very delicate and tasty. An auspicious start.

What was to follow was nothing short of spectacular.

We chose just one appetizer this time, and it was a wise choice.

Foie Gras

Maxime’s Foie Gras
Foie gras  (French for “fat liver”) is a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. This fattening is typically achieved through gavage (force-feeding corn), according to French law, though outside of France it is occasionally produced using natural feeding. A pastry containing pâté de foie gras and bacon, or pâté de foie gras tout court, was formerly known as “Strasbourg pie”  in English on account of that city’s being a major producer of foie gras.

Foie gras is a popular and well-known delicacy in French cuisine. Its flavor is described as rich, buttery, and delicate, unlike that of an ordinary duck or goose liver. Foie gras is sold whole, or is prepared into mousse, parfait, or pâté (the lowest quality), and may also be served as an accompaniment to another food item, such as steak.

Maxime’s is scratch made, and is perhaps the smoothest and tastiest that I have had.  It is accompanied by home-made jam and a slice of lightly grilled prosciutto. 

Osso Buco (ossobuco)

Osso Buco (Ossobuco)
The star of the evening was my Osso Buco. Osso Buco is Italian for “bone with a hole” (osso bone, buco hole), a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank. It is traditionally server with or finished with gremolata,  a chopped herb condiment typically made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. It is a traditional accompaniment to the Milanese braised veal shank dish osso buco alla milanese.

Maxime presents this in a small rectangular casserole with the veal shank atop scratch-made pappardelle, a semolina pasta in the shape of flat sheets about 1-cm. wide. The gremolata and a dollop of petal of confit tomatoes appeared on the plank holding the casserole dish. Mix the gremolata into the thick braising sauce, if you will (I do). I have been eating (and making) osso buco for more that a half century, and have never had any better than Maxime’s. Tender and juicy, this shank was perfect. Don’t forget to eat the marrow (ask for a marrow spoon).

Ravioli

Spezzatino ravioli:  Hand made ravioli filled with beef brisquet and fresh ricotta. Served with a red wine sauce and a thin ribbon of parmigiano.
Sure, you’ve had ravioli before. But chances are that you’ve never had any quite like this.   Spezzatino is a meat stew.  Usually prepared with beef , but also used more fibrous cuts derived from the slaughter of the ‘ donkey or horse . Steaming (or brazing, obtained by placing the coals lit on the pot lid) often lasted 8-10 hours and made ​​soft and juicy flesh is not particularly tender. In fact, the stew meat is part of the category of “slow cooked”, typical of the lower Po valley.

Maxime’s version tasted like a slow-cooked pot roast, and the meat and sauce were stuffed inside the pasta and also drizzled atop the raviolis. This dish absolutely wowed Jane. Me, too.

Panna Cotta with Double Espresso

Panna Cotta With fresh vanilla and apricot coulis. Panna cotta (from Italian cooked cream) is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set. It is generally from the Northern Italian region of Piedmont, although it is eaten all over Italy, where it is served with wild berries, caramel, chocolate sauce or fruit coulis. It is not known exactly how or when this dessert came to be, but some theories suggest that cream, for which mountainous Northern Italy is famous, was historically eaten plain or sweetened with fruit or hazelnuts. Earlier recipes for the dish used boiled fish bones in place of gelatin; sugar, later a main ingredient, would not have been widely available as it was an expensive imported commodity. After years this treat evolved into what is now a gelatin dessert, flavoured with vanilla and topped with fruit or spices, and served chilled.

My dish was covered with an intense tasting apricot coulis. Several thin slices of tart apple adorned the dish, They added some acidity to the rich sweetness of the cream, a delightful touch. Marvelous.

Chocolat mi-cuit Ice Cream and Amarena Cherries.

Chocolat mi-cuit with Ice cream and amarena cherries.
A classic mi-cuit in France is  and gooey and chocolaty. Chocolate lovers will be crying with pleasure. I an one, and did. This is often known as molten  chocolate cake or chocolate lava cake. , Whatever you call it, it  is in the dessert category that I call “death by chocolate.”This version is intensely sweet and chocolaty tasting.

The tartness of the amarena cherries (small, dark, slightly sour cherries grown mostly in Bologna and Modena. Italians preserve them in sugar. The syrup is used to pour over cakes or ice cream.) are the perfect foil to the sweetness of the chocolate. Brilliant dessert.

Spezzatino di Manzo con Gnocchi

Spezzatino di Manzo con Gnocchi

Spezzatino di Manzo con Gnocchi  

Spezzatino is a meat stew. Usually prepared with beef , but also used more fibrous cuts derived from the slaughter of the ‘ donkey or horse . Steaming (or brazing, obtained by placing the coals lit on the pot lid) often lasted 8-10 hours and made ​​soft and juicy flesh is not particularly tender. In fact, the stew meat is part of the category of “slow cooked”, typical of the lower Po valley.
Maxime’s version is made with brisket and tasted like a slow-cooked pot roast. The thick brown sauce is highly complex, and is fantastic. I have had this dish three times, and my good friend L{ had it a few weeks ago. She declared it to be spectacular. It is.

Chicken al Forno 

Chicken al Forno

Chicken al Forno

Maxime does it again. This is a quarter of a chicken oven roasted (al forno) with some veggies and some polenta. The richness of the sauce is unbelievable.

The chicken breast was perfectly cooked — tender and still slightly moist. This may become my favorite menu item here, since the Chicken Marsala (one of Ryan Scott’s favorites) seems to have disappeared  from the menu.

Stffed Caamari

The best stffed caamari you are likely to encounter in The Duke City

Stuffed Calamari

Stuffed with bread, ricotta, guanciale, onion and garlic, served with pomodoro and grated pecorino Romano.  

The stuffing is intensely rich and complex. The calamari are cooked to a tender perfection. The roasted pomidoro have a dense texture, and are a perfect accompaniment to the calamari. The acidity of the tomatos plays nicely against the sweet richness of the ricotta-based stuffing.  This is a superb dish. Maxime has done it again.

The dish has already made its way onto my Best Dishes of 2013 List

Scampi

Scampi

Scampi 

Sauteed jumbo shrimp with anise, fresh tomato and basil.

You might not find a better plate of scampi anywhere in New Mexico. Most scampi preparations consist of shrimp lightly sautéed in garlic butter with a few simple herbs. Maxime’s new menu item breaks away from that mold. This plate had four jumbo shrimp sautéed in a tomato garlic anise and basil sauce. They are cooked and served with the shells on , a style that enhances the rich flavor. Fabulous. Maxime has another winner here.

The dish has already made its way onto my Best Dishes of 2013 List

Every dish we had here can easily win best of breed (or even best in show) anyplace. The preparation and plating is outstanding. The tastes are rich and intense without overpowering the palate. No wimpy food here, just greatness.

Maxime and Daniela have a sure-fire winner here. Look for me at Torinos’ often.

What others are saying

Gil Garduño  — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

“In its annual food and wine issue for 2011, Albuquerque The Magazine awarded Torinos’ @ Home a “Hot Plate Award,” for “Hot Restaurateurs.” The Hot Plate Award is the magazine’s highest honor signifying appetizers, dishes, desserts, drinks and restaurants “that we can’t live without.” What a tribute to Torinos’ that Duke City diners can’t live without this gem of a restaurant.  Some critics I trust consider it the only truly great Italian restaurant in Albuquerque with its nearest competition rating a very distant second.”

# OF VISITS: 8
RATING: 25

Antoinette Antonio’s Best Bites TV show Video of Torino’s

Torinos’ @ Home

(505) 797-4491

Top Ten List Rank: #5

Northeast Heights

7600 Jefferson St. Suite 21 Map.320add8
Albuquerque, NM 87109

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