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The Beach Gourmet: Rosti – Simplicity Equals Popularity:

There exists a common rule of thumb in the preparation of Italian food, and that is the use of fresh ingredients, carefully prepared to embellish natural character of the food, rather than the creation of complex flavors.

With this in mind, I recently stopped in at Rosti Tuscan Food Alfresco on Montana Ave.

With less of the al fresco (outdoor) dining, and more of a spacious, airy and high ceilinged dining room, Rosti recreates the country Tuscany atmosphere that the birthplace of such notables as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Dante Alighieri (“the father of the Italian language”) inspires.

With autumnal coloring and ornaments of a distinctly culinary nature, Rosti’s is a bustling and stimulating affair that, at 4:30 on a Sunday evening, appeared to be a local hotspot for the family dining experience, with many of the tables occupied by Mom, Dad and 2.4 bambinos possibly named Marco, Valentino or Maria.

With a complete Italian menu I was tempted to go the pasta route, with such enticing options such as Capellini Primavera (fresh mixed vegetables sautéed in tomato sauce $9.99) or Sundried Tomato Alfredo (with fettuccine $10.99). But, feeling a little unorthodox, I went just slightly left of center and chose the Fresh Grilled Salmon (served with checca $15.50).

After I had sampled the fresh bread bowl with a pond of olive oil and balsamic, my server delivered my dish promptly, accompanied with a beaming smile and an enthusiastic demeanor.

The grilled salmon and checca (diced tomatoes with olive oil and basil) was escorted by my choice of two sides (included), that on this occasion consisted of garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables (broccoli, zucchini and carrots)

The salmon was a good cut and smartly prepared with a firm but tender consistency and just the right amount of sear, allowing it to retain its aroma, flavor and nutrient value (got to have them oils!). The checca was superb, exemplifying the aforementioned principal of the importance of simplicity in Italian cuisine.

Garlic mashed potato can often be a risky choice as the garlic really needs to be a subtle suggestion, rather than a commanding order (unless you are French, of course J), and thankfully 10 out of 10 was achieved with the potatoes being fluffy yet robust, the garlic announcing its presence with a gentle whisper instead of a shout.

All of the vegetables were al dente (of course!) and again were unfussy with obtrusive taste guests, the carrots being particularly good.

I recommend following my example and checking out the dessert tray, as Rosti’s offers quite a neat selection, including New York Cheesecake and Boston Cream Pie. My sweet tooth went for a tantalizing Triple Chocolate Mousse that was three times as tasty as a regular chocolate mousse. Hmmm.

I enjoyed my Rosti experience a lot, and I imagine that the ambience mutates as the moon replaces the sun, perhaps making this restaurant a neat little evening date option.

My only gripe on this visit was the music…industrial Eurotrash might have its place, but how about a little Vivaldi, Verdi or even Pavarotti.

That, I am sure, would have been a pleasant icing on a rather tasty cake.

Rosti, 931 Montana Ave., 310.393.3236. 

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