Houston’s beloved Italian and Sardinian Restaurant, Arcodoro, is pulling out all the stops for this year’s Houston Restaurant Weeks. Owners Efisio and Lori Farris offer diners diversity in Italian bliss with four different menu options. Complete with four to five dishes, the Terra, Sardegna, Mare and Vegetarian menus rival each other in excellence.
Terra, of course, means earth. The Terra menu opens with the Crostino Misto Terra, a medley of tomato and meat atop a thinly sliced crisped baguette. Choose between truffle beef carpaccio or the gnocchetti of wild boar and Cannonau (Sardinian red wine) for the first course. As for the second, a tender osso buco falls off the bone even before you apply fork to flesh. And for dessert, the Ravioli Durke arrives. The handmade puff pastry raviolo is deep fried and filled with sweet ricotta cheese and raisins, though a taste of orange zest reigns supreme.
Begin with the same crostino for the Mare Menu, but replace the beef with a lighter blend of flavors from the sea. Choose from icy blue PEI mussels in a light tomato broth or the Malloreddus con Ricotta e Bottarga, a Sardinian teardrop-shaped pasta tossed in creamy ricotta with lobster meat. Dusted with the caviar of Sardinia, bottarga, this dish stole the show for us. For the third course, the Pesce del Giorno was perfectly crisp and slathered in a light sauce. And to finish, a surprisingly dense homemade lemon sorbet cleanses the palate.
For the Vegetarian Menu, the Insalata di Cavoli Ricci begins with a bed of curly kale and roasted cauliflower. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar, the salad is glazed with sweet peppers, sunflower seeds, Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil citrus dressing. The second course brings folds of handmade ribbon pasta tossed in a medley of roasted vegetables. For dessert, a fresh fruit sorbet garnished with complementary seasonal fruit.
Rounding out the dinner in true Sardinian fashion, the Sardinian tasting menu greets diners with a couple more courses at $45, $10 more than the other menus. Begin with a bruschetta of mushrooms and tomato. Thick slices of rare ahi tuna arrive next, served with sharp arugula. For the second course, light ravioli pillows are filled with fresh, mild cheese and mint in a tomato-basil sauce. For the third, Arcodoro’s signature suckling pig is cooked in chef-owner Efisio Farris' pizza oven overnight and arrives surrounded in its juices with myrtle leaves, roasted potatoes and lentils garnished with rosemary. And finally, a true Sardinian classic for dessert. The Seadas con Gelato, a round puff pastry, is a delicacy exclusive to Sardinia. Filled with sheep’s cheese, the pastry has a strong flavor but is accompanied by a taste of mint.
Arcodoro offers an optional wine pairing for each dinner menu for an additional price of $28. Those, too, are tastes of Sardinia you won't find anywhere else.