Thursday, March 26, 2009
Terzo: West Coast Italian
My birthday recently passed, and this year due to a variety of circumstances the celebration spanned a few weeks. This has been great for me, of course, and the various festivities have highlighted the fact that my friends and family are really nothing more than a bunch of enophiles, foodies, and rock stars. Oh, the horror!
The final component of the Celebration of Josh was a Saturday night out on the town in Corvallis. The cornerstone of this evening was dinner at a new restaurant, Terzo, that opened March 17 in the old Sahalie space in the Waterstreet Market. I'll admit that when Sahalie shut down, I was skeptical that the void would be successfully filled given the current economic struggles. After all, Sahalie was just one in the line of previously successful shops in town shuttering their doors including Gables, Michaels Landing, Fox & Firkin, and Strega. Industry rumors quickly surfaced indicating that Corvallis restauranteur Iain Duncan had his eyes on the space, ergo, the birth of Terzo.
Duncan has a history of outstanding culinary establishments in town including Le Bistro and Aqua, both which have excellent and menu-driven wine lists. After months of hearing about the new "family appropriate italian" place he was working on, March 17 emerged as the opening night for Terzo -- billed as West Coast Italian, traditional italian cuisine with west coast flavor twists. When we entered the space, it was obvious to me that a lot of work had been done since the exodus of Sahalie -- a number of structural, aesthetic, and safety-driven upgrades had taken place and we were greeted with a rustic, european courtyard and wine cellar theme. The space felt very comfortable and cozy, and we were greeted by none other than Iain himself serving as host.
Upon browsing the beverage menu, I noticed the one piece of criticism I had about the whole experience - the wine list was very intimidating. While our entire group is well versed in wine, we weren't familiar with many of the solely-Italian wines on the menu. The lack of tasting notes, pairing suggestions, or a discernible order forced us to ask the server for suggestions. She made some outstanding recommendations, so not all was lost, and in talking to the bar manager we found out that they will soon be creating a separate and expanded cocktail menu book and wine menu book, which should quickly solve this concern.
Frankly it was difficult to select a dinner entree -- they all looked so delicious! Spanning starters, salads, soups, pasta, and plate entrees with a price point ranging from $10 - $27, we settled on an Antipasto Platter as an appetizer and I selected a Panchetta & Seafood Carbonara entree. Consisting of clams, shrimp, dungeness crab with local herbs, aromatics, manchego cheese, and pappardelle pasta, my mouth exploded with flavor with every bite. Other entrees at our table included a Roasted Half Chicke, Flatiron Seared Ahi & Seafood Ceviche, and Pistachio-Honey Crusted Lamb "Lollipops". All were simply outstanding, but if you go you really must try the lollipops. Really.
After dinner we went to see a musical at The Majestic, returning to Terzo afterwards for dessert and cocktails. They were just winding down for the evening, but we saw a steady stream of customers come in to inquire as to whether they were still open. Highlights of the dessert menu include a Tiramisu, a Lemon Drop Cheesecake, and Tuaca Coffee. Terzo is a welcome addition to the Corvallis food scene and we had an amazing experience and will be back. The price point is a little high to make it a regular staple, but I suspect it will remain popular. To have the kitchen putting out that level of quality, with excellent service, and a full seating at 6:00 PM one week after opening is testament to Iain's hard work and high standards.
Terzo is located at 151 NW Monroe and is highly recommended by The Oregon Wine Blog as a place for dinner, dessert, or just a glass of wine or cocktail at the bar.