La Balena—A whale of a meal

La Balena

For a town like Carmel, it is exciting to find a restaurant that can really rival a good one in San Francisco.  I think La Balena nails it!

We started off with Polpo Grigliato (grilled octopus with potatoes, anchovy aioli, lemon and parsley).   I have to confess that I am obsessed with this cephalopod. If octopus is on the menu, I have to try it. This is one of their signature antipasti, theirs is a bit salty but having said that, I would still order it again and let them know to be cautious with the salt. Others obviously like the polpo just the way it is.

Then we had the Delicata salad: warm chicory greens, squash, pancetta, persimmon, with a splash of pomegranate and sprinkle of pecorino. A salad is truly difficult to pull off—and this one does not disappoint. More a chopped salad than a tossed one, this was an outstanding blend of the crispest artisanal greens and veggies, the perfectly blended vinaigrette– a definite must! For our main course, we shared a pasta dish: Pappardelle with a wild boar and pancetta sauce. Homemade tender pasta with the most amazing sauce of succulent boar in a rich, dark tomato-based sauce.  The portions are huge, so sharing one entrée was perfect.

We’ll be back—and next time I want to try the bruschetta of burrata and basil, ribollita (a white-bean soup with torn bread and parmesan), and the whole sea bass with buttered artichokes. Our friends had those dishes and we tasted them. Yummy!

I don’t think you can go wrong no matter what you decide to order from this new Tuscan restaurant. And watch for their complimentary wine tastings with apps during the summer season!