After a successful new-restaurant-start at The Twisted Frenchman, this past weekend we decided to try out another new place: Senti, an Italian restaurant and wine bar in Lawrenceville. We got to Senti just under the wire for our rules — it’s right on the verge of turning one year old.
We came on a Saturday at about 5; we just beat the dinner rush and had a little time to enjoy our surroundings. We really liked the color palette of the room and the gallery-like feel of the space. It has a definite upscale vibe without being stuffy.
To go with the bubbles, I decided that we would start with an order of the Capasante su letto di Funghi — roasted scallops with cocoa butter on a bed of mushrooms and a little bit of squash, with a small fried ball of burrata. It was the first of several beautifully presented plates, and the flavors matched the food’s artful arrangement. The scallops had just the right amount of searing on the surface, with perfect-10 tenderness. The mushroom and the squash were also cooked just right. The dish had just enough salt to showcase the natural flavor of the squash. The little burrata ball was fried lightly enough that it didn’t overpower the delicate cheese. As I’d guessed, it went perfectly with dry bubbles, but also paired with a nice crisp Pinot Grigio.
After this first course, we each got salads. I had the Barbabietola — a beet salad with white beans. I was really impressed with the combination of flavors and textures the dish held. The razor-thin golden beets at the salad’s base gave it a nice backbone that contrasted nicely with the almost candied sweetness of the red beets, which in turn paired well with the acidity of the dressing and the bitterness of the greens. The white beans had an al dente firmness and added a nice textural contrast. It was a great match for a light Chardonnay — something straw-colored that’s had little-to-no-oaking.
Fox opted to get the Radicchio con Cavolfiore — a radicchio salad with cauliflower, anchovies, shaved Parmesan, and capers. Again, the flavor profile was just masterful. The cauliflower tempered the radicchio’s bitterness, and the briny anchovy really fleshed everything out. The small amount of cheese added a subtle savory quality to the dish. For a pairing, some rosé-style bubbles were a great choice. The strawberry sweetness of the pairing added one more layer to the dish.
For my entrée, I chose the Filetto di Maiale — a roasted pork tenderloin with housemade sausage, grilled radicchio, white beans, pearl onions, and fresh pear. Wow, wow, and wow. The pork had an excellent medium-rare tenderness, and the combination of spicy sausage with sweet pear was to die for. The beans here added a subtle but welcome note of earthiness. I’d recommend a Chianti with this, though with the spice from the sausage, I’d bet a Montepulciano would be a tasty combo as well.
Fox went with the special of the night, the Tagliata — a thinly sliced 6oz steak with spinach, carrots, turnips, potatoes, and a balsamic reduction. As much as I loved my own dish, Fox’s was just as good. We barely had to chew the steak. The crusting of salt on the steak’s surface was a gorgeous complement. Literally every bite on the plate, no matter whether it held one ingredient or four, felt balanced. It was heavenly with a Primitivo.
Also, for purely
hedonistic journalistic purposes, Fox and I ordered a Gnocchi to share. It was served with Senti’s sauce of the day, which on this day was a gorgonzola cream sauce with shaved Parmesan, broccoli rabe, and sun-dried tomatoes. It was rich and decadent, but the salt of the cheese held it back from being too much. It was, simply, incredible.
Now, after a meal like that, you know we couldn’t just go home without seeing what delights awaited on the dessert side of things. I chose the chocolate bread pudding — which, I might note, was truly a pudding, and not what a lot of bread puddings turn out to be, which is some kind of in-betweener that’s clearly still bread, but with some pudding-like characteristics. No. This was the real deal — perhaps the best bread pudding I’ve ever had, in fact — and the savory touch of the rosemary-infused ice cream really made the chocolate sing. It was smashing, and even better with a little black coffee (or tawny port; I had both).
Fox had the scrumptious fruit pie, which was an apple tart with brown butter ice cream. It was just the right size, and had a splendid, fluffy pastry quality while still remaining solid and dense. It was not airy, but not overly heavy. And the brown butter ice cream, good lord! This was a magic trick of a dessert.
So, if you couldn’t tell, we liked Senti. Without a doubt, if you want to have a special night out, or just feel like getting fancy, keep it on your shortlist. The service was amazing, and the food mind-blowing.
In fact, from January 20th-24th of 2016, you can go to Senti and celebrate their one-year anniversary with them. They’ve got a three-course dinner and wine pairing at $35/person. Get yourself a table by calling 412.586.4347.