Trattoria SbandatiTrattoria Sbandati, located in the old La Rosa location on College Way, is one of my new favorite restaurants in Bend. If I could, I would eat there once a week for the rest of my days.
I tried for weeks to get in...actually I sort of was hoping I'd get asked to come in but since they've been booked solid since they opened, that wasn't going to happen. The Wife and I made it in and opted out of a small two top and took a spot at the bar, which we loved. It gave us an opportunity to chat it up with the wait staff and the owners from time to time.
Trattoria Sbandati runs one seating per night and offers a prix fixe menu that changes weekly. On our first visit we honestly didn't even know what was on the menu. I honestly didn't care. I've known Juri and Kinely for a while now. I've taken an Italian Cooking Class from Juri a while back and loved everything we made. Juri and Kinely have been over to our house and served us up some incredible Porchetta (big ass pork midsection rolled up and baked). Whatever he's decided to serve to a restaurant of 35 or so people was good enough for me.
For $50 you get a four course meal with wine pairings. In my opinion, four courses with four (half) glasses of wine perfectly matched with each course is a phenomenal deal.
So we arrived, took our seats and waited for the first course.
Chantrelle mushrooms deep fried by Florentine traditional standards with a fondu of Taleggio cheese.
Great. First course is mushrooms. I flippin hate mushrooms. I'm starting to wonder if I made the right decision to just show up on blind faith. Mushrooms are gross. Their a "fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus!" That's just nasty.
The plate arrives and is placed in between us to share.:
The two square things are fried polenta. I'm thinking that at least I can eat that and swirl it around the fondu. But I figure that I have to try one of these stupid mushrooms. I cut one in half, plug my nose, and have at it.
Oh ... My ... GOSH! It's a stupid mushroom but damn if it wasn't awesome! I devoured the plate while fighting off the Wife for every bit. Of course I'm sure it didn't hurt that they were breaded, deep fried and served on top of hot, melted cheese. I'm a fan of the Chantrelle now and will be quick to give them another try next time I have the opportunity.
Next up was the Risotto, which Juri taught me how to make in his class.
Risotto al Barolo
Risotto made with Barolo wine, a unique dish from the region of Piemonte.
This Risotto had a much darker color to it due to the Barolo wine used instead of chicken stock.
A pretty hearty rice dish but very tasty. I sort of laughed at the fine shavings of Parmesan cheese around the rim of the bowl. It always reminds me of when Gordon Ramsey is doing his Kitchen Nightmares show and when he sees parsley sprinkled around like that he blows on it and coughs while saying something about the '80s. I simply pushed it all back into the bowl to eat with the Risotto.
BRING ON THE BEEF!
Beef short ribs braised and served over polenta.
Really? Short Ribs? How the hell is this Italian? Well, I asked this question to Kinley (hostess with the mostess) and she chatted my ear off for a while. I finally said that I'd email her and she could help me explain it.
The beef just crumbled under our forks and was just heavenly to munch. We each got two nuggets of beef over the bed of polenta with the savory beef juice around it like a glorious moat. I don't know what else to say, this entire entree was just so good and filling.
For me, dinner was done right here. I've said it before that I'm not a big fan of dessert. But the Wife is a huge fan. So she's all excited cause she knows she gets mine, just like I get her left over wine since she's such a lightweight.
Mousse al Limone
The lemon mousse was way too tart for me. I took a couple bites and passed it on. I scanned the tables as dessert was winding down and every flute was picked clean so I guess I'm the weirdo.
All in all, dinner at Trattoria Sbandati is quite the experience and quite the evening. Don't expect speghetti and meatballs. Don't expect a big ass bowl of salad with a side of breadsticks. And don't expect to get rushed through four courses in 45 minutes. Juri explained to me that he really wanted to recreate a typical dining experience in Florence. No rushed meals. You sit and enjoy dinner with family and friends over the course of a couple of hours.
Leave yourself 2 hours easy for a dinner at Trattoria Sbandati and leave your typical American Italian cuisine ideas at the door.
As for Kinley's answer to my question - What makes beef short ribs Italian?
Kinley - "The WAY they are cooked is a typical method of cooking this cut of beef in central and northern Italy. Beef short ribs are a cut of beef that need to be cooked in a way that will make this collagen ridden and fattier part of the animal more tender and tastier. Braising is a technique that originated from France but they have been doing this for centuries in Italy as well.
They were poor farmers that had to use all parts of the cow and over time, they mastered these techniques. Today these poor farmers' attempts to make food taste good are an important part of the culinary arts and have been adapted by chefs and households everywhere. Juri uses sangiovese wine to braise the beef, which is grape varietal that they use in Chianti wine. He also uses herbs indigenous to Tuscany such as rosemary, sage and juniper berries. The wine and herbs bring out the flavors of his land. Moreover, Juri puts the ribs on a bed of polenta which is a staple food of Northern Italy, even more than pasta. This dish is so much more Italian than, lasagne (it is not called lasagna in Italy).
Did I go too far?"
Not at all.
1444 N.W. College Way
If you've read this far, you deserve a little reward. Here's a photo of Juri carving up the Porchetta at our place last year just before the holidays. Freaking love that Porchetta. We took the left overs to everyone's house we visited, shaved off a few slices and enjoyed all week long.