Though the interior doesn't feel drastically different from the old space, they're clearly working the modern Italian feel with a red and white palate and a '60s vibe. The rotund oinkers are everywhere, adorning windows, walls, merchandise and staff shirts. (The shirt backs merely show three round rumps and three curly tails.)
I try not to overthink what I'm ordering in any restaurant and just choose what I like, or what sounds new or unique. But I get in trouble if I don't frequently order whatever a restaurant's “specialty” is. (For the record, if you hang your hat on a house specialty but suck at everything else, that's nothing to be proud of. You should be good at your entire menu. But I digress.) Tre Porcellini does excel at everything I've tried on the menu—including two unique house specialties, both fun takes on risotto.
The decadent Mac & Cheese Risotto appetizer—a steaming and savory rice pudding— is a bowl of the most seductive porridge I've ever eaten. It was more than just risotto with cheese sauce. The steaming ladleful of rich Arborio grains is sunk deep in the creamiest soup of salty white cheddar, along with a justfaint-enough drizzle of truffle oil to take the whole thing over the top.
Now is the perfect time to check out the summery entrée Risotto alle Fragole. The dish is a pale blush color, slowly cooked to bring out the creamy starches and served with a quirky combination of velvety strawberries and tender pieces of shrimp.
When I'm cooking at home, one of my favorite challenges is making gnocchi. Most of the time, I can turn out a mostly edible facsimile of the potato dumplings, but gnocchi really is one of those dishes that you should order from the professionals if you really want to get a proper fix. Tre Porcellini does an excellent version of the earthy treat, with enough heft and gluten to make it toothsome and hearty without crossing the line into a gummy echo of potato flavor. That balance is tricky, and they do it confidently, not hiding their spud nubbins under a cloying cream sauce that often overpowers the delicacy of what gnocchi is all about. It's served simply with a bright and chunky marinara sauce, lemony bursts of basil and just-melted chunks of fresh mozzarella speckled throughout the hot plate.
Considering the recent news (as reported by CityBeat's Brook Larios) that Roberto Gerbino, one of Tre Porcellini's co-founders and chef, has left the restaurant due to “a difference of opinion with his partners about management strategy,” I wasn't sure what sort of service or food inconsistency we might find. Though I can't speak to what might be happening behind the line, I found the service to be friendly, helpful and doting without hovering.
I'll never argue with being greeted and served by a handsome young man with a thick Italian accent. Our entrées came out quickly—so quickly, in fact, that we had to ask what happened to our appetizer. I'm not sure what the confusion was (remember: dreamy Italian accent), but our server was kind enough to buy Mr. City Eat a second beer to make up for the minor inconvenience.
The food at Tre Porcellini is indeed modern and unfussy. The flavors and presentation are clean and simple, yet still homey and familiar and with the belly-filling robustness of excellent Italian food. Don't go to market; don't stay home; pork out at Tre Porcellini.