Suppose you’re in the Anaheim/Orange County area and looking for Italian cuisine with flare. In that case, Tocca Ferro Italian Chophouse is a must. Frank and I had the pleasure of dining at Tocca Ferro Italian Chophouse in the JW Marriott Anaheim Resort a few blocks away from Disneyland.
Despite being open for only a few weeks, Joshua Klindt and Adam Haverland run a top-notch operation. Based on our experience — from Megan’s greeting us at the host station to the incredible table service — you would think that Tocca Ferro had been open for months.
But instead, Klindt and Haverland had time to consider the restaurant as corporate Marriott had previously delayed the June opening for months due to COVID-19.
“One of my most rewarding experiences was working under David Teig, executive chef at Starwood Hotels in Ponoma for the Sheraton Fairplex. The Sheraton elevated farm-to-table cuisine with a five-acre organic farm that I helped farm.”
Haverland, executive chef at Tocca Ferro, has a rooftop garden that guests see for Tocca’s “seed to table” herbs and veggies.
“We try to incorporate elements of the garden into every dish whether a garnish, herb, or main component and will change the menu with seasons,” Haverland said.
The menu that Haverland created is a representation of all Italian regions from north to south.
For the daring, I suggest starting with Frank’s choice, The Godfather Old Fashioned. The classic cocktail features Woodford Reserve bourbon, bitters, and smoke infusion with your choice of cherry, maple, oak or hickory chips. I chose the Tuscan Tenuta di Nozzole Chardonnay with great floral tones, crispness and minerality.
We left our entrée choices in the talented hands of Haverland, and I’m glad we did. The Tocca meatball appetizer was perfectly firm, served in a San Marzano sauce, and topped with fresh garden herbs and a piece of grilled focaccia. This flavor medley let me know this would be an outstanding culinary experience. Next up was the Squid Ink Spaghetti & Clams rendered with chorizo.
The spice and flavor of the pork perfectly melded into the freshly made pasta and littleneck clams, which called for us to shift to red wine. We chose the Michele Chiarlo il Principe, a dry Nebbiolo from Piemonte that cleansed our palates with each sip. The wine was a perfect companion for the remaining parade of dishes Haverland had us try.
Next up were tastings of the following: Ricotta gnocchi carbonara, fettuccini al tartufo, and pappardelle e vitello. The carbonara traditional cream sauce, infused with Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese, had wild mushrooms, pancetta, and English peas. The fettuccini was cooked in truffle butter with asparagus ribbons and topped with table-side shaved truffle.
The fettuccini al tartufo dish was my favorite pasta preparation of the night. Still, it was stiff competition among the plates of pasta. Finally, the pappardelle dish featured slow-roasted veal ragu with crispy garlic and Grana Padano cheese.
In addition to these and other pasta dishes and pizzas, there is a reason Chophouse is in the name of the restaurant. Haverland presented grass-fed filet mignon in a dome billowing with applewood smoke steeped into the expertly prepared filet. Tocca Ferro also offers 21-day, dry-aged ribeye, veal osso bucco with Milanese risotto, rack of lamb, bone-in pork chop, half chicken, tiger prawns, Scottish salmon, and Chilean sea bass on its menu.
Make sure to leave room for dessert. I recommend the vanilla bean crème brulee, topped with a macaron and Chantilly cream, or a panna cotta with a splash of limoncello and garnished with a pine nut brittle and blueberry marmalade.
Thank you, chef Adam, Joshua, and Tocca Ferro team, for this must-dine Orange County experience that I highly recommend! More info at toccaferrochophouse.com.
Sal Ercolano, owner of Flora Bar and Kitchen in San Diego’s Carmel Valley, is hosting a five-course Torres Family Estates Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. on Aug. 24 and 25. The main course features Braised Oxtail in a red wine reduction with polenta paired with Torres Properties Pago Del Cielo Ribera Del Duero Celeste Reserva Tempranillo. The cost is $85 per person plus tax/gratuity. RSVP at 858.461.0622.
It is with a sense of pride and excitement for the current and future position of our leading column, Taste of Wine & Food, and the contributions of Rico Cassoni to its success.
Rico has been a blessing and a major factor in the column’s success since joining this journey five years ago as technical director and, more recently, associate producer of Taste of Wine & Food. Likewise, Cassoni is to be commended for this column’s great leap forward, developing a style of communication that increased our readership tenfold.
I am pleased to introduce Rico as the new executive producer of Taste of Wine & Food. I will continue to advise in business development as we focus on the challenges ahead. The 888th column, a signpost of success, was reached in our July 24 column. We thank all of you for your support in making this happen.
— Frank Mangio, founder and advisor, Taste of Wine & Food
Rico Cassoni is executive producer of Taste of Wine & Food. Cassoni and founder and advisor Frank Mangio, a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator, are two of the leading reviewers on the web. View their columns at www.tasteofwineandfood.com. Reach them at [email protected]