We started out with a cheese plate ($14). There was a good cow’s milk cheese that tasted like what Whole Foods typically has out for samples and an excellent, mild, fairly firm goat’s milk cheese. The most notable inclusion was the Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk. The waiter warned us that we should pair it with some grapes and nuts, and the sour intensity was a bit much for Sarah. We both made faces when we had a bite, the same as people typically make for extremely spicy food. I enjoyed it, though. The plating was beautiful and included walnuts, fig cake, various crackers, apple slices and grapes. The dish was among the best courses I’ve had this year, appetizer or otherwise. Baricelli also sells their cheeses retail at the front; we’ll definitely have to pick some up sometime.
We had half-portions for our entrees, which was a very nice option for trying out different dishes. Sarah ordered the veal ravioli ($12). The flavors were mild but excellent, and even a half portion was filling and satifying. I ordered the gnudi with sheep’s milk ricotta, sausage, reggiano parmigiano and roma tomato sauce ($13). The dish came with about as much sausage–flavorful, meaty and slightly spicy–as gnudi. It was very, very good and filling enough that I couldn’t have eaten any more. (Gnudi is very similar to gnocchi except that cheese is used instead of potato).
To drink we had San Pelligrino, and I ordered a glass of the Reisling. It was very good and paired well with my entrée.
We decided to order our own desserts, but the portions were so big that we really didn’t need to. Sarah ordered the brownie with ice cream and espresso fudge, which was outstanding. The brownie was soft and fudgy and the homemade vanilla was bursting with flavor. I ordered the banana chocolate cheesecake with strawberry ice cream. I loved the ice cream but no so much the cheesecake, which seemed dry and not sweet enough. Then again, for whatever reason, we don’t seem to like cheesecake from high end restaurants (including one we had from Emeril’s NOLA). Our server, Dave, seemed genuinely sad and disappointed that I didn’t like it–he noticed it was left over and asked why–and immediately brought us two scoops of vanilla ice cream on the house.
The service was impeccable. Dave was very knowledgeable and as friendly as would be comfortable for someone you’d never met before. Our water was also very regularly refilled. Sarah said that the next day she felt like our visit was a dream because the service was so good as to seem almost unreal.
Dine-O-Mite pointed out the Baricelli seems like a place for special occasions, and we couldn’t agree more. Jonathan was on a dinner playdate and we thought we should take advantage of that rare occurrence. Then again, Cleveland Foodie has frequently written about prix fixe menus that come up occasionally, so we could make more occasions “special.” And, based on a table near us, Baricelli seems more than happy to accomodate children.
We very much look forward to our next visit!