Saturday, January 1, 2011


I'd never heard of this place, but Betsy suggested we eat here. Apparently, Nostrano is a newer establishement, which might explain my ignorance. There are alternate explanations for my ignorance, of course, but there's no need to explore those now.

Nostrano was a fantastic place to spend NYE. It's a tight cozy restaraunt, with dark lighting and a wet frost thick on the large windows, which opened onto the capitol square. The tables are well separated and the entire atmosphere is conducive to quiet romance.

They were experimenting with new menus that night, which means our meals might not have been representative. At any restaurant, I like to try and find something unique. Often, this criterion alone is enough that Betsy can figure out what I'll be getting, because one thing clearly stands out above the others. Yet at Nostrano, there were so many choices that qualified for me that it was hard to choose. I had to pass up the Bison Tartare appetizer to try the sunchoke soup with smoked salmon and caviar. My entree was chicken, which is an accomplishment in itself, because I never order chicken. But it was a crispy delicious concoction prepared with a fennel puree and pickled(!) apples. There's a nice little touch like that for each dish on the menu.

The last thing I want to talk about is the pear risotto. In addition to the pear flavors, it contained pheasant meat, and I'd be lying if I said this wasn't by far the best risotto I'd ever had. If I could make it myself, I'd probably never bother going out again. It's probably for the best that I'll have to go out to get it. Suffice it to say, if you go to the restaurant and don't get the risotto, in spite of all the other interesting sounding appetizers, you've done yourself a horrible disservice.

The portion sizes and prices seemed about right for an upscale restaurant on capitol square, and the beer list (we wisconsinites drink beer for NYE) was small but at least local. The service was leisurely, but just right for an evening whose main event was the dinner. Bottom line: Nice, romantic place for those interested in trying something new.

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