Piccolo - Minneapolis

Last month I had the great opportunity to visit Minneapolis’ new restaurant, Piccolo. The menu is small and they serve very small portions (a few bites) so you get the chance to try many different things. The menu is very strongly composed, and Anthony Bourdain himself called it, “one of the most inspired and inspiring meals” of his U.S. tour. Being as my family and I went to try something out of the ordinary, we ordered one of each plate on the menu (a 4-course meal) and shared them all together. 

I apologize for the quality of the pictures. I love a nice candlelit dinner, but it’s not the best for photography.

Enjoy your eye feast!

Foie Gras Torchon with Roasted Grapes, Violet Mustard, and Cardamom Bread

We all really enjoyed this. This is also only the second time I have enjoyed foie gras. The roasted grapes were warm and just a touch sweet. They went very well will the buttery foie gras.

Chicken Liver and Porcini Agnolotti with Juniper, Sage, and Smoked Brown Butter

My family loved this as well, my mother and I especially. Chicken liver is also a new ‘love’ of mine. The classic brown butter and sage sauce for pasta brought me back to Skills One at the CIA when Chef Le Roux told me that brown butter and sage sauce was something worth making in the middle of the night when you can’t stop thinking about it. Plus with the mushrooms (my favorite ingredient in the world), I was already having an exceptional meal.

White Asparagus Soup with Saltine Cracker Croquette, Benton’s Bacon, and Pickled Herring

I only got a quick taste of this dish but I do remember how creamy, silky, and smooth it was. The herring was vibrant and the asparagus made a wonderful pairing. And that rhymed ;) Plus the smokey bacon tied it all up nice.

Fresh Hearts of Palm with White Asparagus, Golden Char Roe, and Japanese Mayonnaise

I also had only a quick bite of this. But I missed out on the roe and mayonnaise. This was however, my first hearts of palm experience. So I guess now I’ll have to go home and make something with it. 

King Crab and Lardo Pave with Celery, Avocado Puree, and Cocktail Sauce

Before our visit I actually read somewhere that this dish would change your life. It was a pretty classical pairing, but every ingredient was so in tune with the next. It was so light. So fresh. A little sweet, a little creamy and fatty, and a little sour. Very. Delicious!

Frog Legs Wrapped in Prosciutto with Celery Root, Potato Puree, and Fennel

This came out very different than I imagined! I was expecting to see little frog legs on the plate, but I was actually pleased at the sausage-like presentation (no strange little bones on the plate or difficulty eating). My whole family really loved this dish! It was their favorite of this course. Celery root and fennel made wonderful pairings with the slightly smokey and salty frog. This was my first frog experience but will not be my last.

Charcoal Grilled Octopus “Shawarma” with Yogurt, Pickled Cipollini Onions, White Asparagus, and Garlic Puree

Octopus is one of my favorites. I liked this dish a lot while a few in the family had averisions. I thought the yogurt played a nice background to the octopus. The onions were a little tangy and sweet as well while the garlic added warmth. 

Scrambled Brown Eggs with Pickled Pig’s Feet, Truffle Butter, and Parmigiano

This was my favorite dish of the evening if you could believe! The eggs were cooked perfectly, not a second overdone. I’m not usually a fan of truffle (the aroma is so strong and sometimes turns me off) but it was used very delicately in this dish and helped tie the parmesan in. The meat of the pickled pigs feet was literally…outstanding. I can’t describe how delicious it was. One of those ‘memorable’ dishes I will probably always remember.

Alina Duck with Bresaola, Prunes, Lentils de Puy, and Cabbage

I was really excited to see all these ‘uncommon’ ingredients on this plate! Not many people I know eat or enjoy prunes, lentils, or cabbage (though I love them all). The prunes add a slight sweetness that duck always enjoys. Lentils add warmth to the dish as well as texture. I can’t remember if the cabbage was acidic or not but I am guessing yes! My family never thought they would like duck but on this trip I had it a couple of times and now they adore it.

Braised Lamb Neck with Morcilla, Puffed Rice, Cauliflower, and Compressed Celery

I also only got a quick bite of this so I can’t tell you much but, I do love lamb (in fact, Rachel means ‘little lamb’)! It’s underrated but has a wonderful taste when you buy it from a good source (I’ve had bad lamb—it’s bad). Behind it is the puffed rice and cauliflower, which added some nice texture and delicate flavor. The compressed celery however was vibrant with flavor and was warm with the gamey lamb.

Beef Cheek “Pastrami” with Charcoal Grilled Leeks, Gruyere Cheese, and Sun Chokes

I think this might have been my first time eating beef cheek. My dad and I (who are very much alike) enjoyed the taste and texture a lot! It wasn’t as tough as you would imagine. It was tender and even a bit gelatinous in places. I really enjoyed it though! Grilled leeks are a great way to add a little char without putting it directly on the meat. The sun chokes were a bit sweet and the mayonnaise added great flavor as well.

Marshall Farms Rabbit with Dates, Roasted Eggplant, Porcini Mushrooms, and Tahini

This dish was so Earthy and beautifully constructed! The rabbit was incredibly tender and with great flavor. The eggplant and mushrooms added the Earthy flavors and the tahini and dates added a slight sweetness and balanced out the dish.

Chocolate Pound Cake with Blood Orange, Medjool Date, and Cocoa Nibs

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this dessert. The pound cake was perfectly moist, and the blood orange (which you would imagine as mostly tart), was both perfectly tart and sweet. The date was sweet with a warm raisin-y flavor as well. This was also very ‘memorable’ to me.

Pine Needle Panna Cotta with Pine Nut Brittle and Mugolio

The panna cotta tasted very strongly of rosemary. My mom really loved this (she’s loves flan and custard-y desserts). It was really nice with the toasty pine nuts and caramel.

Marcona Almond Rice Krispy Bar with Sea Salt Meringue and Apple Butter

This was a unique surprise! Lot’s of texture in this dish with the almonds, meringue (loved it!) and krispy treat. The quince paste was delicate, almost floral tasting, and of course tied everything together.

Cheese Plate with Quince Paste

I adore cheese plates! However, I couldn’t have 2 out of 3 cheeses due to an allergy. But the hard cheese was great and the quince was great with it as well. It was a nice sweet and salty ‘last bite’ to the meal.

I will absolutely be going back next time I am home. By then there will be a whole new menu to explore and enjoy. This restaurant is truly inspirational because it takes the average person out of their comfort zone. It is wonderful for people who know and love food, but those who read the menu and nearly have a panic attack will LOVE it. To think of all the new things that my family tried—foie gras, chicken liver, frog, octopus, pig’s feet, beef cheek, things like that—this restaurant takes some of those more ‘scary’ ingredients and makes them absolutely dazzling and even desirable. 

I will be counting the days until I can enjoy another 16-course meal and a price of (get this approxination) $34 a person (not including wine). Sixteen courses. One person. $34. You can pay $34 on a pretty special occasion for a single steak at some places, or you could literally go on a journey like this that will open up your eyes, whether you are Anthony Bourdain himself or ‘you’ who just read this and pledged never to eat pickled pig’s feet.

It really takes a restaurant like this to get people to feel daring! 

I start the Bachelor’s program at the CIA today—wish me luck.

Rachel