Sunday, May 8, 2016

Villa 22 Trattoria & Bar–new Italian place downtown

We were on our way to another restaurant when we walked past the brand new Villa 22 Trattoria & Bar! We like to think that we are on top of what is happening in Stavanger but we did not know that this Italian restaurant had opened. We went in to check out the menu and we decided to check it out. It turned out that they had opened that very day at lunch time!

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The restaurant occupies both the ground floor and the first floor. The first thing that catches the eye when you enter the restaurant is the orange domed wood fired pizza oven imported from Italy. We first got a table on the ground floor but we were quickly moved upstairs. It was easy to see that the place had just opened – there was hardly any decoration on the walls, no sun screening on the huge windows, toilets where the neighbors could see in due to no curtains etc. But I assume that these are things that the management will look into when they get some feedback.

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The menu seemed quite limited at first glance with only three starters, three main dishes and five pizzas. We decided to go for chefs special – a sort of tasting menu. We also ordered a bottle of red wine and the waitress seemed to struggle quite a bit to open it. She was wandering around with the bottle and when she finally got it open she was so stressed out that she didn’t offer us to taste it and there were also a few cork floaters in the wine glasses.

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The starters were served relatively fast and we got bread in a big, old measuring scoop, olive oil, a plank of cheese and salami and a couple of pastes served in Odd Standard tableware – it is great to see that the restaurant is using local products! We asked a bit about the plank of cheese and meat. Mostly because Nikki is lactose intolerant and we appreciate recommendations on the eating order. Although we were quickly enlightened that the cheese was cow milk based, there was some hesitation regarding the ham. We took an educated guess and they did get back to us in the end - it was a type of chorizo, coppa and parma ham – so pretty safe choices. What type of cheese we were actually served remains a mystery. The service in general was excellent – attentive and enthusiastic – but they will need to improve their knowledge of what they are serving. The pork and duck fat mash was good with the toast and yet surprisingly not a defined flavor as expected. Both of us kept on dipping the toast and smearing the bread with the spicy salami mash – definitely a winner for us.

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The starters were followed by a sharing sized plate with small tomatoes. I’m pretty sure that the tomatoes were local (Hanasand maybe) and they were quite tasty! It was served on top of a white spread and we asked the guy who served it what it was. He suggested risotto and we said “no, this is not risotto”. Maybe it was burrata. Regardless this was a simple dish which highlighted the naturally tasty ingredients.

The next dish was a lightly smoked carpaccio with parmesan cheese and capers. Again, simple and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. The carpaccio could perhaps have been sliced into smaller pieces, making it easier for more people to share.

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It was time to move on to the main dishes. The first warm dish we got was a pizza margarita. We only got half which seemed a bit weird based on the half-finished presentation. Nonetheless, the pizza margarita was excellent! Neapolitan style airy and easy to slice and chew crust; the kind of buffalo mozzarella that holds its consistency even when you leave your pizza to get cold; and creamy tomato sauce that complemented the rest. After a while the waitress came to serve the next dish and she presented … pizza margarita! I’m not sure what happened there. Were we supposed to get a different pizza? Or should we not have gotten pizza part 2? The second pizza margarita was even better and looked like it was the one we should originally have been served – based on the better presentation.

The next main dish was a bean cassoulet. Not exactly a dish that hurtles me back to lazy days in Tuscany but a solid, very tasty dish and the salty pork meat worked great with it.

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At this stage we were both feeling quite satisfied but not overly full. We had enjoyed the rest of the wine and were tempted to ask for the spicy chorizo paste recipe. We rounded off the meal by having tiramisu and lemon curd/meringue dish. The tiramisu was not that great – a bit dry and not as rich in flavor as I prefer them to be. However, the lemon curd/meringue dish was an explosion of tastes. The lemon sorbet looked like beaten egg whites to start with! It was fluffy and the taste was heavenly. The lemon curd and Italian style meringue rounded off the experience.

As we were waiting for the check we could smell some smoke and all of a sudden the fire alarm went off. We were told that it was a false alarm and that we didn’t have to evacuate. I guess this summarizes the evening in a way. The service from the wait staff was exceptional but they still have a few kinks to sort out, which was understandable as it was opening night. We look forward to trying the restaurant again in the near future and I hope that they can keep up the standard and not fall into the trap of becoming a low budget diner that serves the people that are visiting the bars in the vicinity.

The meal that we had was about 2000 Norwegian kroner (250 USD) with a prosecco aperitif and a bottle of red wine.

Second visit – lunch in the sun

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We did end up having a sun filled lunch at Villa 22 a few days later. Summer came to Stavanger and we indulged by having pizza in their outdoor seating. When summer comes to Stavanager, finding a spot downtown to eat some lunch is almost impossible but the staff made it happen and we were quickly seated at the table of our choice. The lunch menu also had sharing / tasting menu options. We had the pizza marinara and a parma pizza. You have to give them credit for being brave enough to offer an anchovy pizza. Both met expectation from our previous experience. Dessert was a double espresso and the lemon curd/meringue dish. The sorbet was served a little more rustic and the consistency was a little more compact this time but certainly Nikki’s new favorite. Service was still excellent and we shall certainly be returning to share a meal with friends.

Regards
Gard
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