I’ve been wanting to get to Monsu for a while and finally took my family there for my Birthday. Our meal started with gorgonzola spread on bruschetta topped with red pepper amuse bouche. The gorgonzola was light and was surprisingly good with the sweet peppers. They also served us bread; it was a dense homemade focaccia and served with an orange, garlic chutney in olive oil. We all chose to do the 4 course meal for $40 where you get to pick anything off different sections of the menu. We all shared a bit of each of the portions of our meal to get a broad taste of the menu.
I started with my favorite, Arancini, topped with something akin to a pepper jelly over a starch. The breading was thick and crispy enough with a creamy flavorful inside then the sauce on top added some sweet heat and more flavor. My husband had the Polpo, grilled octopus, it wasn’t too chewy and the flavor was good. My sister had the beet, walnut, frisee, salad topped with vinaigrette which was good but nothing out of the ordinary. My mom had the Scamorza Fritti, stuffed fried smoked mozzarella drizzled with aged balsamic, this was delicious. They did a great job of keeping the outside crispy without the inside being too chewy. My dad tried to get sardines but they were marinated in citrus and he is allergic so he ended up with the Lumache, red wine braised snails with button mushrooms. They were tender and not salty as every other time I’ve had snails.
For the Prima Piatti I had the Pasta alla Monsu, rigatoni with spicy harissa, tuna, plum tomato, green olives and fresh mozzarella. It was spicy but delicious and flavorful; I was already feeling full at this point. My sister had the Lasagne Rustica which was probably my least favorite of the meal, it was overcooked, dry and served with an egg on top which she was not a fan of. David had the gnocci with crab, pistachio, and tomato cream which were light like pillows, the way I like them. The sauce was delicate and complimented the ricotta perfectly. My mom had the tagliatelle with artichoke mushrooms, lemon and ricotta salata. Once again the pasta was homemade so it was delicate and the sauce light and complimentary. My dad had the favorite of this course- spaghetti fra diavolo, spicy pasta with lobster, pancetta, tarragon and cream ($5 upcharge for this one but worth it). It was light and fresh with big chunks of lobster and just enough sauce, must have if you go.
For the Secondi I had the grilled swordfish steak stuffed with caramelized onions, raisins, pine nuts, and potato gauzetto. I was nervous about it but it was tender melt in your mouth fish complimented well by the stuffing mix. The next day my leftovers were a bit too fishy but it was great fresh. My mom had the Vitello, winer of this course, sauteed veal which was a bit spicy but so tender. My dad had the special which was sausage stuffed Branzino served as the entire fish. It was pretty good but had tiny bones every few bites even though they said there wouldn’t be any. David had the Tonno, smoked pancetta wrapped tuna steak which was good but perhaps a tad over cooked and could have used more of a sauce. My sister had the Osso Buco which was just served as a giant hunk of meat with nothing to accompany it. It was falling off the bone but perhaps could have used a carb to help soak up the juices and for something to pair the meat with. She also had the Sicillian Fries instead of dessert which were insanely good. They were thin hand cut fries with red pepper, balsamic, fennel and onion topped with saffron aioli, balsamic and pecorino. I could have eaten two plates of these.
We finished with tiramisu, a flourless chocolate cake topped with blueberries and a chocolate filled cannoli. I wish they’d had gelato, it would have been a perfect end to the meal and not so heavy. The desserts were mediocre, they should start ordering from Isgro (my favorite in Italian Market). The cannoli had too much going on with the orange marmalade and chocolate filling, I also prefer smaller ones because you get a higher ratio of wafer to filling. The flourless chocolate cake left me unimpressed as always, I’m one of those people who just thinks cake needs flour. The tiramisu had good flavor but was too wet. Its hard to win so hard at three courses and also nail the fourth though so no hard feelings.
It was truly a great meal and almost every single bite was delicious, flavorful, and homemade with care. The staff were kind, accommodating, and as authentic as the food. We will definitely be back. Oh and the best part, its BYOB.