Saturday, May 10, 2008

Scoozzi's Spring Seafood Festival

Scoozzi Trattoria and Wine Bar in New Haven, CT held their Six Annual "Sagra Del Pesce," Spring Seafood Festival this past week. Not wanting to pass up a chance to try out some Italian wines and some of Scoozzi's delectable Italian food we made our reservations and attended the event. Chef Jeff Caputo prepared the following items:
We started out with a nice chilled glass of 2006 Cantele Chardonnay, from the Puglia region of Italy. Since chardonnay is probably my favorite white wine I was happy with the smooth velvety feeling of this nicely balanced wine. Alone and paired with the appetizers the chardonnay was a pleasant beginning .

The appetizers were a delicately seasoned Atlantic Tuna tartare on ciabatta croustades, Peekytoe Bay, Maine Lump Crab tartletts and Pan fried Italian Bronzino bites. The crab tarts were simple and light, while the Bronzino bits had a nice very light fried coating that did not overpower this white, mild, soft Mediterranean fish.

Once we sat down we started out with a Ceviche of American Red Snapper, Wild Mexican Gulf Shrimp and Canadian Digby Bay Scallops served with a fresh artichoke heart. This was paired with a Botromagno 2006 Gravina. The gravina started off a little too acidic tasting for me but within a half hour opened up and showed some elegance. What started out as a what I refer to as a rough bouquet mellowed and morphed into a Chardonnay-like oaky aroma. It worked wonders with the ceviche. I'd call the Gravina a two-fer wine. Drink it quickly and you'll have a clean and tart tasting wine, let it warm up and the bouquet opens, it becomes more oaky, mellows out and holds its finish nicely. This may very well be one of the wines I keep in stock for summer on the deck parties.


Next course was Connecticut harvested Little Neck Clams and Rhode Island harvested Squif braised in a spicy tomato sauce, garlic brushed croustade, escarole and beans. Ahhh, look at this beautiful melange of seafood. This dish paired up excellently with the Il Palagetto 2006 Vernaccia. For me it's usually red food, red wine. Yet the Vernaccia proved that the tried and true is not always the way to go. The spiciness of the sauce toned down perfectly with the low acidity of the Vernaccia.


Following the saucy seafood mix came the Grilled Connecticut harvested Sea Scallops, sweet corn fritella, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, with a dash of saffron-ginger creme fraiche. For once I could actually taste the spinach and mushrooms without being overwhelmed with sodium. The sweetness of the scallops was complemented by the sweetness of the corn in the fritella. This was another meal in itself. This dish was served with the 2006 Principato Pinot Noir. I felt this was a lighter weight pinot noir but still had that wonderful cherry aroma, spice and oak in it. Once the nose developed it smoothed out. It had a slow start but nice finish. The black cherry and berry fruitiness made this a good choice to taste with the scallops and corn.

By the time we tried the Fried Maryland Softshell Crab with arugula salad and lemon aioli we were really full. I wasn't about to pass up on softshell crab though. Paired with a 2003 Bove Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, "Avegiano" this was another good choice for the pairing. The rich fruit character of the Bove was delightful without being too complex for richness of the fried crab.

And finally, the end was near. Coconut Gelato was the dessert. A sweet, clean ending to the food, flavors, and fun of the night. A bubbly, airy, carefree finale tasting of the Prosecco, Neirano put a smile on my face.

Thanks to the three Jeff's; Jeff Horton, Jeff Schultz, and Chef Jeff Caputo, including their wonderful staff for a tasteful night of food and fun.