Chef Mario Rizzotti at Il Faro Restaurant & Bar

One of my favorite restaurants in Albany is Il Faro Restaurant & Bar (698 N Pearl St, Menands), their food is delicious! Last Wednesday (June 21), they had a special celebrity guest in Chef Mario Rizzotti who you may recognize from the Food Network’s Iron Chef America as a frequent judge, for his 4 the Love of Italian Food tour.

We started the evening with a delicious crostini con funghi which was a housemade crostini topped with fresh ricotta, parmigiano, wild mushrooms, garlic and thyme. That was paired with a Zardetto Prosecco Brut and Fabbri Amarene cherry juice with two cherries on the bottom. The crostini was delicious and if you read my blog you know garlic is its own food group to me so I loved that bit of flavor in each bite. Plus, the crunch of the crostini with the creamy ricotta and smooth mushrooms- the consistancy was amazing!

For dinner, we had a few courses, each paired with a delicious wine. First course was a gnudi, house made spinach and ricotta dumplings served with butter, sage, and Parmigiano cheese paired with a Castello de Neive Grignolino. That sauce may have been one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It was rich but light, perfect! Second course was Brasato al vino rossi, red wine-braised Beef Short Rib served with Sweet Pea Puree and Carrot Vinaigrette paired with Ceretto Barbaresco. The short rib fell off the bone and melted in my mouth. I was disappointed that I couldn’t finish the whole thing myself.

The courses most interesting to me were the palate cleansing sorbet with olive oil and our dessert, Panna Cotta alle Amarene, Italian vanilla custard served with Febbri Amarene cherries and Acetaia del Cristo 12 year aged Balsamic Vinegar paired with Castadolio Rosato. One of the main things I take away from this whole experience is the incredible knowledge that Chef Rizzotti has about olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I would never think to pair either of those with a dessert and I loved them!

We had the honor and pleasure of tasting the olive oil served in the sorbet by itself. I learned so much. I never really knew the ins and outs of olive oil and balsamic vinegar until Chef Rizzotti. First, I never would’ve thought to add olive oil to a sorbet but the flavors were incredible! Also, apparently the only way to buy olive oil is in a green bottle because there’s something about the color that keeps the sun from the oil and therefore ruining the flavor.

I have such a passion for food and not just eating it. I love learning the ins and outs, the tricks, the ingredients that are better than others. Honestly, if I could’ve gone to every one of Chef Rizzotti’s 4 the Love of Italian Food tour stops, I would’ve just to pick his brain. I can only hope he does another tour so that he can come back to the area, I feel like I still have so many questions, so many things to learn!

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