BEST BACCALA - 2007
You knew it had to happen. After watching so many episodes of The Sopranos for all these years, we'd start hunting down the Italian delicacies they raved about on the show. Little did we know that baccala is a lot harder to come by in Arizona than in North Jersey. Well, we've finally found the good stuff: Veneto Trattoria's decadent baccala mantecato dried, salted cod prepared Venetian-style. If you've never tried it, it's nothing like the way it sounds, neither dry nor particularly salty. Instead, the snowy white fish is slow-cooked until it falls apart, then mixed into a fluffy, creamy consistency that melts in your mouth. At Veneto, they serve it with the traditional accompaniment of grilled polenta. It makes a fine appetizer, as a prelude to housemade fettuccine or osso buco with saffron risotto, but now that we're so obsessed with baccala, we need a whole plate to ourselves. Whaddaya gonna do about it?