Tuesday, November 29, 2011
A Sneak Preview of Bar Toma
Bar Toma's unique Mozzarella Bar. (Photos: 312 Dining Diva)
We slipped into the friends-and-family event Sunday for Bar Toma—it opens today!—and boy was it a scene.
The casual Italian resto helmed by Spiaggia's award-winning Tony Mantuano attracted a number of heavy hitters and newsmakers, namely current Top Chef contestants Heather Terhune (Sable Kitchen & Bar) and Sarah Grueneberg (Spiaggia). The two confessed to 312DD that they've become good friends since appearing on the culinary-driven reality show.
But they didn't come to talk about the show, they came to chow down like everyone else on Mantuano's take on authentic Italian casual fare. Most of the items on the menu were offered that night, so we had the opportunity to check out a number of dishes.
Bar Toma's Positano "pizza salad" of curly endive, Parmigiano, tomatoes, red onions and Essenza balsamico.
We tried to grab seats at the most coveted section in the dining room—at the Mozzarella Bar—but the diners looked like they'd be camped out for the rest of the evening. Mantuano said his was the only such bar of its kind in the United States, and the only other one he'd ever encountered was in Rome.
Those in the sweet seats were lucky enough to watch the cheese artisans work their magic on the mozzarella before it made its way to diners. And if they were really lucky, they might have gotten tastings of the numerous cheeses available.
Our mozzarella indulgence consisted of Tasting of Three (fior di latte, mozzarella di bufala, smoked), which we consumed as we settled into the wine bar just around the corner from the Mozzarella Bar. We also had the charred carrots that were drizzled with Capriole goat cheese, almonds and Acetaia San Giacomo balsamico; Rosticcino di Abruzzo of grilled marinated lamb skewers with rosemary seasoning; the wood-fired Merguez pizza of Pinn-Oak Farm lamb sausage, tomatoes, olives and Manchego; and the Positano "pizza salad" of curly endive, Parmigiano, tomatoes, red onions and Essenza balsamico.
About that Positano. We were fascinated with the thought of a "pizza salad," so we ordered it, but it did not arrive as we had expected. The salad fixin's were bountiful and fresh, however, they were simply the toppings over wood-fired pizza crisps. We would have much more enjoyed it had the crisp been sliced pizza-style to consume like bread sticks.
Here's the entire menu.