Trattoria Neapolis, Pasadena’s new Italian restaurant, has just made my list of favorites in the South Lake District (this esteemed list also includes Cham Bistro and Pie ‘n Burger in case you were wondering). There are plenty of reasons to love this restaurant. For one, the ambiance is fantastic with high ceilings and natural lighting on the patio. Two, they have a wood burning oven. And, three, they make everything from scratch, from bread to salumi.
They also have an impressive drink program, full of American and Italian classics. Prosecco cocktails abound and the wine list is extensive. If you’re a beer drinker like me, they even have an in-house beer sommelier to help you choose from local and Italian brews. Pictured here is The Doctor, a smooth and smokey mix of rye and Italian bitters.
I’m such a sucker for those giant ice cubes.
Antipasti options include hand-crafted cured meats, Sicilian meatballs and wood-grilled octopus. We went for the Arancini with lobster and pickled fennel. The crunch was perfect, but the flavor wasn’t as intense as it could have been, causing the lemon aioli to be the peak of the dish. This is often the case with arancini, but I did appreciate its creamy texture and the sizable chunks of lobster.
My favorite dish of the night was the lasagna.Layered with mascarpone and wood-grilled eggplant and zucchini, it was delicate and refined like lasagna should be, but rarely is. The noodles had a lovely lightness to them, and the tomato paste was sweet, rich and tangy. The pasta is all made in house with organic semolina and local organic eggs, and you can get full or half portions. I’ve heard great things about the gnocchi, which Trattoria Neapolis’ Head Chef Bryant Wigger is known for.
It’s hard for me to pass up Osso Bucco, and this one didn’t disappoint. The lamb was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the polenta was as creamy as can be. After that performance, I’m willing to bet that the wood-roast pork chop with porcini crust and wild mushrooms is pretty dreamy. I’d also give the flatiron steak with salsa verde a try.
The grand finale was a deconstructed tiramisu. My husband is a tiramisu purist and can be brutal in his assessment of the dessert, but he liked this non-traditional version. Peaches and marscapone were cushioned between amaretto-soaked lady fingers, then drizzled with caramel sauce and pecans.
I should admit that I had this meal a few months back, so I’m sure that the market-driven menu now has some fall elements. I should also admit that I didn’t try the pizza, which is kind of ridiculous since they do have that wood-burning oven. Nonetheless, the meal, which I was invited to enjoy by the restaurant, was top notch.
I just got word that Trattoria Neapolis will be start serving brunch this Saturday, and Prosciutto Benedict sounds promising.