Avalon Hotel Unveils Summer Menu With Sorprendente at Oliverio
If raw oysters, freshly shaved truffles, and roasted swine had anything in common, it would be their debut at The Avalon Hotels’ Sorprendente at Oliverio, the Italian street faire-themed unveiling of chef Mirko Paderno’s summer menu.
Featuring interactive cooking and tasting stations, an al fresco bar serving Italian-themed cocktails, osteria—a new, authentic Italian dining experience—and music by Agency DJs, Sorprendente rocked the culinary world of the guests who attended this exclusive Los Angeles wine and food tasting. One need not be rich or cool to enjoy chef Paderno’s display of fresh treats from the sea, dripping ice sculpture, motif of homemade limoncello-filled bottles, wood-burning meat-grilling station, pasta-making exhibition, plethora of fresh pasta-tasting stations, truffle and truffle-infused product sampling, and wine tasting.
It was a pleasure speaking with Anthony Badalamenti from Palermo Wine Imports about the five or so Italian wines he was sharing with guests, including my favorite of the night, a 2008 Amarone Della Valpolicella by Tinazzi, available, explained Badalamenti, at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. Amarone, some say the most prestigious red wine in Italy, is made from partially dried grapes from the Veneto region in the northeastern part of the country. As a pediatric oenophile, Tinazzi’s Amarone Della Valpolicella impressed for its organoleptic fruitiness and smooth finish and paired excellently with my tender piece of leg-of-lamb.
For those fortunate enough to score a VIP pass to the event, fresh crab claws, jumbo prawns, and oysters decorated with sea urchin awaited and were served with choice of tangy cocktail sauce, vinaigrette, or a sweet, smoky pink sauce. For everyone outside the lounge, cook Ernesco demonstrated the delicate art of ricotta-filled, purse-shaped pasta making.
Entrare Domenico’s Foods. Dominick DiBartolomeo began working at the Cheese Store (the Disneyland for City of Angel curd nerds) of Beverly Hills in 2001 when he supplied them with his famous sundried tomatoes. His success as “the tomato guy” ricocheted into a successful business supplying fifteen farmer’s markets—from Torrance to Calabasas, Pacific Palisades to Pasadena—with pestos, peppers, sauces, spreads, and fresh pasta weekly. Dominick himself supplied the guests of the event with a seemingly never-ending supply of pesto-laced pasta throughout the event, with the crowd favorite appearing to be the fresh spinach pasta with sundried tomato pesto and Marcona almonds.
As if truffle oil, truffle salt, and truffle sauce couldn’t seem more decadent, the large straw basket delicately caring for ten or so huge black truffles garnered the attention of guests at the event. And, when chef Paderno appeared continuously through the evening with fresh goat cheese pizza in tow, one of The Truffle Brothers attentively and aggressively shaved fresh truffle generously over each as the crowd anxiously gathered around to see the spectacle and garner a piece. It reminded me of when you drop fish food in a pond and all the fish jet to the edge of the water to find the food. And yes, Ace, my partner in crime, jetted to the edge to score me several pieces because I just could not stop eating! (Side note: Our 9 year old has managed to develop a taste for truffles and thoroughly enjoyed the piece we hijacked and placed in my purse for her.)
Finally, the centerpiece of the event was chef Paderno’s preparation and presentation of pastas and sauces. For his feast on a family-style menu, we sampled dishes such as spaghetti with lamb ragu and seafood raviolo with heirloom tomato and zucchini flower. Guests watched the chef create simple yet elegant pasta dishes and tasted as the night progressed. Although we did not get time to chat with the chef himself, his dishes spoke for themselves—rich, light, and complex yet simple. I could appreciate his use of seasonal and local products.
As executive chef at Oliverio, Paderno has been tasked with developing the concept and menu for this upscale Italian restaurant in the Avalon Hotel. At Oliverio, chef Paderno showcases what he calls “modern Italian food with regional touches” and fuses Italian flavors with local ingredients. Using meats from California, as well as an ever-changing selection of seasonal ingredients, chef Paderno’s menus are feasts for the senses. We cannot wait to visit Oliverio again to see what treasures chef comes up with next.