The Plumed Horse’s Trifecta

Chef Peter Armellino in his element at his new Pasta Armellino.

Chef Peter Armellino in his element at his new Pasta Armellino.

 

If you only know the Plumed Horse for being the chic Michelin one-starred restaurant in downtown Saratoga, wait until you hear what it’s been up to.

It’s added not one, but two sister properties just steps away.

The Plumed Horse Collection, as it’s now known, debuts today the casual Pasta Armellino across the street. I had a chance to check it out last week at a private media event.

It officially opens today.

It officially opens today.

San Francisco graffiti artist Chris Kondo's handiwork.

San Francisco graffiti artist Chris Kondo’s handiwork.

Executive Chef Peter Armellino, who’s headed the Plumed Horse for a decade, has expanded his reach with this 60-seat eatery that’s all about home-made pastas.

In fact, from the street, you can peer into the dough room, where everything is rolled out, stuffed or cut, by hand.

The view into the dough room from the street.

The view into the dough room from the street.

And the view from inside the restaurant.

And the view from inside the restaurant.

You check off what you want to order on the paper menu, then hand it to the counter person. Then, take a seat, to await the cooks to deliver your order.

Samples of mushroom soup.

Samples of mushroom soup.

The pastas run $12 to $18, the soups $8 to $10, We had a chance to try samples of the creamy, earthy mushroom soup dolloped with chive creme fraiche and topped with focaccia croutons.

Lobster agnolotti.

Lobster agnolotti.

The pastas are plenty supple, particularly the lobster agnolotti with pea sprouts. The pepper rigatoni with Berkshire pork and smoked mozzarella is plenty spicy with Calabrian peppers. My favorite was the gnochetti with mushroom ragout and black truffle shavings, which was intensely loamy.

Calabrian pepper rigatoni.

Calabrian pepper rigatoni.

ou can never go wrong with a little black truffle on pasta.

You can never go wrong with a little black truffle on pasta.

Then, it was on to the second new venture that opened late last year just two doorways away — the Plumed Horse Chocolaterie. Former Plumed Horse server Angelica Duarte hand-crafts the most incredible chocolates — most of them hand-painted by her, too. Just take a look at the little sheep she paints on each of her Bailey’s chocolates.

Fabulous chocolates await inside this new shop.

Fabulous chocolates await inside this new shop.

These are chocolates that are not only beautiful to look at, but boast creative and potent flavors.

"Peanut Butter Loves Jelly.''

“Peanut Butter Loves Jelly.”

"Habanero Hottie"

“Habanero Hottie”

"Jasmine Tea.''

“Jasmine Tea.”

She hand-paints a little sheep on each one of these.

She hand-paints a little sheep on each one of these.

The Jasmine tea chocolate, enrobed in white chocolate, really tastes of the floral leaves. The Ginger Yuzu is plenty gingery with a note of fragrant citrus. And you’ll find it hard to stop at just one of the Peanut Butter Loves Jelly bon bons.

Chocolate-maker Angelica Duarte.

Chocolate-maker Angelica Duarte.

The chocolates are $5 each. But get there early. She’s known to sell out every day, and even early on weekends.

If that weren’t enough, Chef Armellino is now making his own caviar, too, in conjunction with a private sturgeon farmer in the Sacramento area. The teeny eggs have plenty of pop and creaminess. Enjoy the Plumed Horse “Reserve” caviar on the menu at the Plumed Horse for $95 per ounce.

A tasting of Plumed Horse caviar.

A tasting of Plumed Horse “Reserve” caviar.

Classic blinis.

Classic blinis.

And if you’re in need of more chocolate, a cart filled with Duarte’s confections will roll to your table at the end of dinner.

Resistance is futile, of course.

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