If the vibe — and the food — at the new Fortina in Armonk is going to be anything like the Chef’s Table at Cooked & Co was on Saturday night (and I have every reason to believe it will be), we are in for a real treat.
Chef Christian Petroni and his partners, Rob Krauss and John Nealon, hosted a sneak peek of some of the dishes they hope to serve at Fortina when it opens this spring. We tasted a crazy-good riff on cannoli, a salad with deep fried (!) parmesan rinds, a comforting chickpea soup that Christian’s grandmother used to serve him and a table (more on that in a minute) of polenta with pecorino and bone marrow butter topped with spicy duck ragu and sliced roasted duck breast, topped with a hazelnut gremolata. Insane.
Here’s Christian putting the polenta table together. (Warning, this video might be rated R for language.)
You can hear the camaraderie going on in the background of the video — and that was a group of people who had mostly just met.
John and Rob set the tone, pouring wine and making us all feel comfortable, and Christian came out to tell the stories about his food. (His grandmother served that chickpea soup, even when the temperatures were in the 90s during summers in Italy.)
At Fortina, there will be a four-seat marble chef’s table in the kitchen, and Christian plans to do polenta tables like this. If you’ve never heard of a polenta table (and most people at the dinner had not), just imagine a crab boil, where all the crabs get dumped on the table with newspaper and you grab one and break it open with a mallet. A polenta table is similar: you spread the polenta onto the table and then top it with sauce and meat. Diners eat the portion right in front of them, plates be dammed.
More photos, after the jump.
We started with this salty, sweet, mouthwatering morsel: a “cannoli” made of parmesan with whipped mortadella and studded with candied pistachios:
We shared wines at the table and someone brought a bottle of champagne to start. It was the perfect match. Otherwise, we had wines recommended by Stu Levine of Vino 100 in White Plains, including a great crianza that is a good bet with most any of Christian’s dishes.
I also brought one of our LoHud wines of the week recommended by Jeffrey Wooddy of Rochambeau, the Teutonic Wine Co’s Pinot Gris.
It was especially good with the salad: Wild Arugula with Meyer lemon vinaigrette and fried Parmesan rinds:
We went red for the bisque. Made with chickpeas and emulsified with extra virgin olive oil. No butter or cream (but there was parm). Loved it with cracked black pepper, too.
The final dish, the polenta with duck:
The hazelnut gremolata was a great addition, it just brought everything home.
For dessert, Christian whipped up what his Dad used to call L’uova spath-tude (beaten eggs). It’s really a sabayon, or, in Italian, zabaglione. It came with Meyer lemon zest and fresh berries. A lovely finish.
The chef’s table is at Cooked & Co each Saturday until Fortina opens. It’s sold out, but they are taking names for the waiting list. (In fact, 4 people canceled for the first night, so I was able to invite a couple of friends.) Email Christian at firstname.lastname@example.org to be on the waiting list.
The 411 on Cooked & Co.: 28 Garth Road, Scarsdale, 914-205-3939. Search Facebook for its page.
The 411 on Fortina: 17 Maple Ave., Armonk. 914-273-0000. www.fortinapizza.com.