Alto Cucina is yet another restaurant that this blog has brought me to for the first time. Located at 3531 West Lake Rd , this old farmhouse is easily missed if you aren’t looking for it. The driveway is long and leads to two doors, one for the restaurant and one for the bar. Inside the restaurant, walls are lined with art and shelves stacked with books. Everything was surprisingly dust-free considering how many decorative items were on the shelves, quite refreshing to see a restaurant that takes care enough to keep more than just the tables clean. If you want to go for dinner, a reservation seems to be appreciated. Once we were seated, our server, Mitchell, was with us shortly to inform us of the nightly features and answer any questions we had. We wanted to stick with the steak theme so for an appetizer, we ordered the Carpaccio Celestine. On the menu, there are three choices for steaks. Amanda chose the Steak Adiutori and I decided on the Delmonico Messina.
There was bread, which was oddly a little cold, with dipping oil on the table when we sat down. While we were breaking into the bread, our appetizer was served. The Carpaccio Celestine was paper thin beef tenderloin slices with truffle oil, Gorgonzola, and whole grain mustard on a bed of greens with tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers. Instead of being served completely raw, the beef was very lightly seared and served rare. The beef by itself melted with each mouthful and had a very subtle, delicate flavor. With everything else on the plate together as one bite, the beef was strongly overpowered and hidden by all of the other bold flavors. I would have loved for the beef to be the shining star of the plate; all the “extras” seemed unnecessary because the meat was very good on its own.
Our soup and salad arrived shortly after we finished with the Carpaccio. I had the minestrone while Amanda started with the house salad. The minestrone was delicious. The beans and pasta had a great toothsome bite and the broth was well seasoned. Amanda’s salad was tossed with white balsamic vinaigrette that, like the beef, had very subtle flavors. It wasn’t nearly as strong as traditional balsamic and went well with the mixed greens.
With the rest of our meal coming to the table in such good time, we were confused when it took over thirty minutes for our steaks to be served after we finished with our starters. The Steak Adiutori was a 12 oz New York strip steak topped with a garlic, parsley and shallot gremolata. On the side were a few potatoes that had seemingly been soaked in some sort of brown sauce, and a salad of chopped tomatoes, mixed greens, mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese. It was close to what was served with the Carpaccio. Her steak was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, was well seasoned, and the gremolata was delicious and very flavorful. The steak, however, had a lot of hard, inedible fat on the outside with very little marbling throughout.
My Delmonico Messina was an 18 oz bone-in beef rib steak topped with a mushroom ragout, a tomato/corn salsa, and a side of garlic smashed potatoes. My steak was cooked beyond the medium-rare temperature that I ordered and was almost medium-well, though it was extremely tender, juicy and packed with flavor. I could have eaten a bowl of the mushroom ragout by itself, it was that good. The corn salsa was a little odd and didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the plate. My steak had beautiful marbling with delicious fat throughout and even more flavor was added simply by cooking the steak with the bone in. The smashed potatoes were amazing. The texture and taste were proof that the potatoes had been made from scratch with real potatoes, not boxed flakes. They were some of the best I’ve ever had. I used the bread to clean my plate when I was done.
Besides the slight wait for our entrees, which I would assume wasn’t his fault, the service from Mitchell was really great. Thank you to him and to the kitchen for an enjoyable meal. After using our Erie Fine Dining card, our meal was only $60 and that was including tip which was well worth it. The phone number for reservations and information is 814.835.3900 and is located at 3531 West Lake Road . The restaurant is open from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm Tuesday – Saturday.
Until next time,
Andrew — Beard vs. Food