When was the last time you said the phrase, "I'm in the mood for Sicilian"? I don't think I've ever said it, but maybe I should start. I got a little taste of newcomer Eolo the other day, and Chef Melissa Muller-Daka is determined to make Eolo stand out from the pack with their creative menu. First off, the name is derived from Greek mythology, and the "contemporary Sicilian" menu incorporates many influences like Greek, Roman, Jewish, Arab and Byzantine. Eolo is creative and interesting, and for the most part, it was also successful.
Diving right in to the food (though I will mention that supposedly the interior is designed by a former SNL set designer), I will say that Eolo puts a lot of twists and creative touches on their plates, and in the case of the appetizers, those touches came in the form of sauce accompaniments. The tuna tartar was very fresh, and it was served over a pistachio cream sauce, which was tasty on it's own, but I'm not sure I felt it went all that well with the tuna. It was just an odd combo and the nuttiness of the sauce threw me off a bit. The scallops were cooked perfectly, served over caramelized fennel and currants with a vanilla-cider drizzle. Fortunately, the drizzle was just that – a drizzle. It wasn't bad, but it was too sweet to be paired with scallops in my opinion. I actually tasted it separately and thought "wow, this would go really well with ice cream." Again, good thing it was only drizzled around the circumference of the plate..
The lamb meatballs and the pastas, however, were a home run. The lamb was crispy on the outside, tender and savory on the inside, and served in a sesame cream sauce which was very good. It was a nice compliment with a strong mediterranean influence - and in this case, the sauce worked and made it something I have never had anywhere else. The pastas are made in house (unless noted otherwise on the menu) and we had the whole wheat tagliatelle, the cavatelli and the pumpkin gnudi. I won't delve into it that much because the menu changes seasonally, but I will say that none were dissapointing, but I thought the pumpkin gnudi was a little on the sweet side. The brown butter and sage sauce also added a heaviness to an otherwise light and fluffy gnudi. I really loved the tagliatelle in a simple tomato, carrot and cream sauce – excellent flavors and not excessive.
Eolo decided to try out a new special on this particular night, and it wasn't one that I really consider to be indicative of the region of Sicily: fried chicken. Turns out fried chicken is not only a southern delicacy, but it is also a Jewish-Sicilian tradition served on Hannukah. Fancy that! Either way I think it should make a permanent appearance. The chicken was juicy and fried to crispy, salty perfection. I was surprised at how good it was actually. It's served alongside a monstrous slab of potato gratin, which was delicious, but very, very rich – there was so much butter and cheese, I couldn't have more than a few bites.
I was in the mood for some red meat, so hanger steak it was. There's good news and bad news here: the steak was cooked perfectly (medium-rare), but it was over-salted. For those of you who frequent my blog (thank you, by the way), you know that I love salt, so for me to say something is salty means it is SAL-TY. The steak is served over hashbrowns (a salty starch to begin with) with a side of garlicky escarole, which was very good, but also a bit salty. A steak that good doesn't need to be overseasoned, and I could tell this was a good steak.
At this point, we were so stuffed that I didn't think I could even have dessert…until I saw the Tiramisu Sundae. What in the world is that? Oh, I don't know – just one of the best things I've ever had with chocolate. Tiramisu pieces, brownie chunks, coffee gelato, coffee-fudge, nuts, and whipped cream. Yes. It IS as good as it sounds. If you're a chocoholic like me, you will LOVE this..
Eolo is still a pretty new spot (just opened in October), so I think if they work out those few minor tweaks, it could be a real find and/or local favorite. I get the idea of wanting to stand out and be different, but some of the food was better on it's own without all the bells and whistles.