Small Plates, Big Flavor
Wilmington’s only true tapas restaurant delivers delicious food and potential to spare.
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Lazzarini serves the medley with pots of honey, dulce de leche (a caramel-tasting dip) and fig compote. The honey and figs made a lovely pairing with the milder cheeses. But what to do with the dulce de leche? I simply savored it on my fork. Lazzarini later told me that it is meant to cut the pungency of the Cabrales. Servers should inform the guests.
Ceviche is displayed prominently on the menu, and diners can sample from two to four with the tasting option. Both the octopus and red snapper possessed a bright, tingly flavor, owing to the citrus marinade that cooks the seafood. Chunks of avocado mingled with the snapper, and scarlet ribbons of piquillo peppers nuzzled the octopus.
I was impressed with the tenderness of the octopus, which, in the wrong hands, can make a pink eraser seem tender in comparison. The kitchen simmers a whole Mediterranean octopus in white wine sprinkled with lemons, salt, bay leaves and a mirepoix for about six hours. “When I see the head start to fall of the body, that is when I pull it out of the water,” says Lazzarini. “When you roll your hands over the tentacles and the skin falls off, it’s done.” Not a pretty picture, but when blended with piquillo peppers, it is a pretty dish.
The classic flatbread, however, woke my mouth right up. Strips of white anchovies marinated in white vinegar shared the edible canvas with snappy asparagus, sliced hard-boiled egg and more piquillo peppers.
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