Birthday dinner at Allegro
In July we made reservations to celebrate my birthday dinner at Allegro on a Friday night. Allegro has been around for quite a few years and we had previously frequented them on different occasions – the last was a work Christmas dinner. We decided it was time for a revisit as they had pointed out that they have a new chef and a new menu. There were not many people in the restaurant this night – I guess due to a combination of the fact that it is summer vacation in July and because there was a game on in the football world cup. We got a table in the downstairs area and this is quite cozy - candle lit, with red checkered table cloths and exposed natural rock with a tiny natural stream of water.
Allegro is an Italian restaurant, but they do not focus on e.g. pizza. The menu is not extensive but it is good to see that they have been a bit adventurous when it comes to using local ingredients (e.g. ravioli with cod). You can go for a set 5 course meal, but I choose to go à la carte as the combination on the 5-course menu didn’t really appeal to me. As you might have seen from my trip reports (see this one from Bologna) I do like Italy and I ordered something that I could have ordered in Milan: a platter of cold cuts as a starter and risotto Milanese (saffron risotto) as a main. The wine list is not bad at all but as always for restaurants in Norway, you pay a lot extra for drinking the wine at the restaurant, compared to buying it at the local wine store Vinmonopolet.
We got the wine that we ordered and some toast, that was excellent. It didn’t take long before the starter was served. My platter of cold cuts included lardo, salami, pancetta and parma ham. I think the portion was a bit on the small side and I would have appreciated some fresh bread on the side (but maybe just because I dream back to visit to Parma and the torta fritta that is served there). All in all, a standard platter of Italian cold cuts. I’m lucky enough to have traveled to Italy previously and enjoyed these delicacies but I’m sure a novice might have appreciated an explanation from the waiter.
Nikki’s Parmigiana was a beautiful creation of eggplant and mozzarella with a tomato sauce around it. The eggplant and cheese were flatteringly presented and a surprisingly good combination, but I was not that crazy about the tomato sauce as it reminded me of a simple tomato soup.
We decided to just have so called Primi (which is a sort of a big starter in Italy) as the main meal as the bigger main meals didn’t have any options that were calling my name. The risotto Milanese is a classic risotto dish which is traditionally just flavored with saffron. It was served strikingly on a plate with a stripe of balsamic vinegar and a stripe of rosemary. The risotto had a great consistency, but I was a bit puzzled that there were hardly any scent or taste of saffron. Nikki’s cod ravioli was good, but the presentation of the ravioli was a bit uninspired. After the meal we got a surprise when the waiters came in with a tiramisu while they were singing happy birthday song to me. I’m a sucker for tiramisu and theirs was excellent.
Conclusion: the restaurant is cozy (even if the background music was a bit loud) and the service was exemplary. It is good to see that they have tried to focus on a smaller menu, but I also have to say that the menu did not have that many options that were screaming my name. The risotto was maybe disappointing as it didn’t have the taste of risotto that I’ve experienced – both from trying it in different parts of Italy and trying to make it myself. I think I have to say that Allegro is a solid choice for inspired Italian food but will not necessarily be the first place that we think of when we want to enjoy a night out in Stavanger with Italian food on the menu.