Saturday, January 28, 2023


We had dinner at Castellana in Central a couple of weeks ago right before the Lunar New Year long holiday. The restaurant has gone through quite some changes since our last visit a few years back, now at the new venue in Central and a new chef on board, but they remained uncompromisingly Piedmontese, serving the contemporary style of cuisine from the region known for white truffles and Barolo wines, among many other ingredients and produce from the province in Northern Italy. 

Their new space in Central spanned over two floors in Club Lusitano Building on Ice House Street, with a chef’s table setup on the lower level completed with counter seating and open kitchen and then the spacious dining area upstairs, which was where we were seated. 

The six-course tasting menu has been pre-arranged for us and we started with a few pre-dinner snacks of savory beignets, salami and lardo. That’s followed by the nicely presented Arctic char tartare with the fish coming from the lake up in the mountains in Piedmont, diced and cured and served with roes and green apple gel on the side. The fish was similar to trout in terms of taste with nice firm texture and the hint of sweetness from the green apple did elevate the overall flavor profile.  

I was pleasantly surprised by the next course which was described as “Bell Peppers served Asti Style” on the menu. To start I didn’t know those colorful and meaty yellow and red bell peppers came from Asti, the capital of Piedmont (they were even known as Quadrato d’Asti) In this version, red and yellow peppers were roasted, skin and served as cold appetizer with tuna sauce stuffed inside – think Vitello Tonnato but with bell peppers instead. I was impressed with how this seemingly rustic dish was given a refined touch with such a beautiful presentation. 

The rich chicken soup was served in a deep dish with two types of agnolotti stuffed with spinach and egg yolk with soy bean puree. The pasta came with a good bouncy bite and went well with the soup with intense but clean flavor. The risotto course was outstanding, cooked with the punchy semi-hard Castelmagno cheese (perhaps the most well-known type of cheese originated in Piedmont). On the side were bits of dried dates, hazelnut crumbles and finished with freshly grated black truffles on top. I love the combination of creamy, pungent, nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness for balance. Rice was perfectly cooked too to take up the flavor – that goes without saying. 

Our main course was beef, Fassona beef of course given that's the signature breed in the region. The piece of Flletto di Fassona came from the most tender part with nice meaty flavor, was seared and served with parmesan sauce on top and a porcini gravy underneath. Very simple dish but well executed, and that’s the way to do it with the region blessed with so many excellent ingredients. We finished with the dessert of Montebianco, the version of “Mont Blanc” just south of the French border, with chestnut puree topped with whipped cream shaped like a mountain and persimmon sauce underneath. I could live with more of the chestnut and less of the cream but it was refreshing and delicious. 

A flight of wines was served with most coming from Piedmont. A sparkling wine from a winery more famous for their Barolo (Damilano), followed by Barbera and Barbaresco. Thought the Barbaresco matched well with the risotto – (uncharacteristically) soft, medium-bodied, plenty of red fruits (red cherry and plum) and a hint of nutty flavor. A bottle of “Super Tuscan” was poured for our main course, followed by the sweet Moscato to end what was a delicious and quiet date night.

(The meal was by invitation)

When? January 12 2023
Where? Castellana, UG & 1/F, Club Lusitano Building, 16 Ice House Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Risotto al Castelmagno, Mostarda di datteri e Tatrufo nero
Damilano Metodo Classico Brut NV
2019 Bruno Rocca Barbera d’Alba DOC
2015 Paitin “Serraboella” Barbaresco DOCG
2015 Castello del Terriccio 'Tassinaia' Toscana IGT
2021 Ca’ d’Gal Lumine Moscato d’Asti DOCG

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