I have always been a big fan of restaurants that most people consider “off the radar”. The one’s that you may drive by three times a week without even giving it a second thought. After having some truly fantastic experiences in these types of restaurants, my brain has trained itself to seek them out in my travels.
Locally there are a few excellent food service establishments that have these “cult” type followings. One of which is Il Pescatore in the downtown area of Orlando. Il Pescatore offers authentic Italian-American cuisine, boasting large portions and exceptional quality in every dish. The decor is of a nautical theme of a very homey feel. The veal is tender, the seafood is fresh and the pasta is fantastic.
One of my favorite dishes in the culinary world is veal marsala. Veal marsala is a tenderized veal chop typically cut into medalions, with a marsala wine sauce made from mushrooms, butter and of course marsala wine. Marsala wine is one of the only wines that is not particularly enjoyable to drink on it’s own but very good when utilized in culinary creations.
Pairing a wine with this dish is not a particularly daunting task. Mushrooms create a savory component that can be complimented by many red wines. One rule I typically stick to when pairing wine, is to (if possible) stay within the region from which the food comes. In this case almost any Italian wine will do. The actual pairing is based on the preferences of the person enjoying the meal. Personally, I tend to enjoy more off-dry and fruit forward varietals with full mouth feel and agressive flavors.
In my most recent visit to Il Pescatore we enjoyed a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Zinfandel to accompany the always perfectly prepared Veal Marsala. The tannins from the Sangiovese grape matched up very well to the savory components of both the veal and the mushrooms in the sauce. The fruity notes of both the zinfandel and the merlot paired perfectly with the marsala wine. Overall the choice of a blend to pair with a classic dish was a risk but it proved to be a very enoyable experience.
Those of you who enjoy a family style, traditional setting in a restaurant offering “old world” cuisine, I would strongly recommend Il Pescatore. And for all of you living in Orlando but missing the cuisine of the North East United States, you have to check out Il Pescatore in Orlando.