Best Offal - 2004
Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
We like saut?ed kidneys as much as Leopold Bloom does. Luckily for us, Chris Cosentino -- who became the executive chef of Incanto, the highly regarded Italian trattoria, in the spring -- is also enamored of offal, aka variety meats, and features them on his menus. The offerings change frequently, but they might include Venetian-style pork liver, spicy lamb tripe with mint, ravioli stuffed with pigs' feet, grilled lamb's liver with polenta and arugula, or beef marrow ravioli with pumpkin and sage. Cosentino is a veteran of Mark Miller's Red Sage in Washington, D.C., and Berkeley's Chez Panisse, where he learned how to cure meats (one of his specialties is coppa de testa, or head cheese, which includes meat from pigs' heads and trotters). Incanto has done special meals, such as a "Slow Food" dinner whose menu featured salumi misti (a platter of cured meats including coppa de testa; salame cotto d'agnello made with lamb heart, tongue, and sweetbreads; a special cured pork liver dish; and a pork terrine made from pork shoulder, spleen, and kidney), a salad garnished with crispy pigs' ears, ravioli stuffed with confit of beef liver and kidney, a main course of milk-braised pork shoulder, and a dessert of shaved fruit ices and cookies whose shortening was pork lard. Sign up for its newsletter online to learn when future feasts are planned.