Dinner time and at the suggestion of the Cheval Hotel Mr. & Mrs. Monster are hitting up Il Cortile. The question of how one can eat after breakfast, two full lunches and a pre-dinner snack begins to take shape in The Monster’s mind.
There is a small wait so they give us some Prosecco on the house which is a classy touch. We take a seat at the small bar and begin to peruse the menu. One look and The Monster knows he better make room for a lot of delicious food.
We’re seated outside. It’s a fairly pedestrian patio with weird lighting in that the half closest to the restaurant is much more dimly lit than the half closest to the street which is operating room bright. We are seated right on the edge of these two worlds so it balances out nicely.
A seafood fiesta is ordered. Grilled octopus with fresh vegetables marinati in a spicy vinaigrette; grilled fresh calamari marinati with shrimp and scallops in olive oil and lemon; kabocha squash tagliolini with Maine lobster, baby arugula white wine and herbs; risotto with black mussels, calamari, clams and shrimp; gnocchi with a Maine lobster ragu in champagne sauce. Since we’re in Paso a red blend or Zinfandel seems appropriate. We go with the Turley Old Vines.
If seafood is not you’re thing you’re still in luck because the menu at Il Cortile has plenty of meat-centric and vegetarian dishes. The ingredient combinations and care with which they put the menu together (all the pastas are homemade) inspires much confidence in the meal we are about to enjoy.
Another reason to like Il Cortile, they don’t serve any Coke or Pepsi products. We found that out when Mrs. Monster tried to order one. Something rings true about a place that decides it can do without either.
The two appetizers come and they are phenomenal. Admittedly, the wine is taking hold but it’s a smorgasbord of fresh ingredients prepared expertly. It’s also nice to have two octopus dishes with totally different tastes, textures and techniques employed.
There is a weirdly long wait between appetizers and entrees. The restaurant is now half full and while we have nowhere to be and a little lag between courses is actually helpful to the ever-expanding waistline, this is a tad bit irritating.
However, the longer The Monster sits with this wine the more he loves it. He has always been a fan of Turley, now even moreso.
Gnocchi, ridiculous. Rich and creamy, this is like eating dessert with lobster. Tagliolini, delicious. The risotto is the only miss and even then it was still a fine dish. But by this point The Monster seriously might bust open.
And then he sees the passing waitress with a beautiful piece of Tiramisu. And he knows he will be ordering it.
And it is marvelous.
A wheelbarrow comes to take The Monsters home. This Monster falls asleep in it.
Why go? Tremendous Italian cooking paired with delicious wines.
Monster rating: 4 ½/5 Monsters
608 12th Street
Paso Robles, CA 93446