Taste 05.23.19

Maurizio Cutrignelli | Osteria al Mare

You might imagine that boneless short ribs braised in Barolo would stand out on any menu. Tender beef soaking up Italy’s finest wine? Yes, please.

The meat falls apart, leaving an intense, husky character on the palate. But Chef Maurizio Cutrignelli and his team at Osteria al Mare could skip the slow cooking process and save the Barolo for the bar if he wanted. The accoutrements to Brasato al Barolo—a polenta cake and a dense argodolce—prove so mesmerizing you almost forget about that hearty piece of beef.

Argodolce is just a sweet and sour sauce, tugged one way by vinegar, the other by sugar. But Cutrignelli starts with a veal bone stock. He also caramelizes pickled onion in its own liquor. So the sauce thickens like a gravy, with a dense meaty core and an earthy sharpness that fills in the space between sweet and sour.

“We get the richness off the bone,” he says. “And it gets a little kick.”

The polenta cake peeks through this, its crispy veneer revealing a custard-like meal with flecks of corn adding to the comfort. It’s a composition that just makes you happy.

OSTERIA AL MARE, 32 Cannery Row, Monterey. 920-2833, osteriaalmare.com

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