To ring in the New Year, my family and I went to dinner at a beautiful Italian place in Driftwood called Trattoria Lisina. I’ve been to this restaurant before on several occasions and when it came time to make New Years Eve dinner reservations, I knew this is where I wanted to go.
Trattoria Lisina is basically the perfect place for special occasion dining. Why? First of all, it’s BEAUTIFUL. Every single time I go I become awe-struck by the grounds and the structure itself. It mimics classical Italian architecture, and offers an expansive and rustic dining area. There are verandas off the main dining room that have some pretty spectacular views of the surrounding landscape and vineyard. It’s also delicious. Super delicious. And hey, it's romantic. Granted, this wasn't a totally romantic dinner, but it's a good place for date-night in my opinion.
I’m glad that I called two weeks ahead of time to make reservations for Monday night, because who knew it would be totally booked ALREADY?? I was able to get a 5:30 p.m. table for three and decided that it’d be totally fine to have an early-bird dinner on New Years Eve. I mean, why not?
Suddenly it was the day and suddenly it was time to head out. How’d that happen so fast? Geeze. Anyway, we were all dressed and ready to go. We cut through the evening fog and drove down the long driveway leading to the restaurant. There was something about the way the fog sat heavy and how the sky was dark that made traveling down this road seem like we somehow traveled from the Texas Hill Country to the Italian countryside. Pretty cool.I have a pretty active imagination, so I pretended like this happened. Don't make fun of me.
The evening was dark and gloomy but you’d never know once opening the large heavy doors and stepping through the threshold into the restaurant. It was warm, vibrant and full of life. There was a ton of chatter, clinking of wine glasses. Cooking smells and excitement spilled out from the open kitchen and pass and filled the large space with pure happiness.
We were promptly seated and placed our wine orders. I didn’t take any time to scan the extensive Italian wine list, like usual. I made a new, but correct move in telling our server what I like and trusting her with her suggestions. OH she was good. I wish I thought to ask what it was I ordered, but it was delicious. I took some time to breathe in the atmosphere. The dining area was decorated attractively for the New Year with silver and gold balloons all over the place. I do love festive decorations! Yay!
I came into this dinner knowing what I was going to order. I always get the same thing: Calimari for the appetizer and Linguine allo Scoglio (Pasta with shrimp, mussels & clams, extra virgin olive oil, white wine, red pepper, garlic & fresh tomato) for my main course. Every time. I don't ever deviate.
Until that night. The special New Years menu caught my eye. After I scanned this menu and decided it might not be THAT awful to spread my wings and see what something else on the menu tasted like, I set the it aside, and opened the regular menu and scanned the offerings. I noticed they added mussels to the appetizer menu and I firmly decided that I’d be ballsy and try something new. I love mussels…
Then my eyes did an abrupt scan-stop when I reached Costolette di Agnello alla Griglia (Texas grass fed lamb chops grilled over oak & pecan, with a reduced balsamic glaze, peperonata & Parmigiano garlic mashed potatoes). How had I never seen this option before? I’ll tell you how: I always stop at the pasta. I never kept going. Ever. Well, out with the old and in with the new and this includes timid menu scanning and ordering processes.
When our server returned to take our orders, I requested the mussels and the lamb and a side of Tagliarini al Pachino (Thin homemade pasta in a sauce of fresh cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and basil). Yeah, I got a side of pasta. With my full meal. Whatever. My dad ordered the calamari and a sirloin steak and my mom ordered the grilled asparagus salad and the New Years Eve Chilean Sea Bass.
About four minutes passed before our server returned with oil and bread, and awful news. They were out of mussels. Uh oh. Crap. She suggested the Fig and Pancetta Stuffed Quail with Fig Sauce from the NYE menu and you know what I said? OK, sounds good. Yeah. I didn’t get nervous or anything. Maybe a little, but I trusted this lady. I don’t know why but she seemed like she knew what she was doing.
When our appetizers made their way to the table, I was more than excited with my server’s suggestion. This little quail was something out of my dreams. I mean, it looked like a funny mini bird covered in sauce, but the SMELL was INTENSE. My mouth went from normal mouth to ultra excited mouth and I couldn’t wait to try it.
My first bite was so surprising. The meat was succulent, tender and juicy. The skin popped and gave way to some truly amazing flavors. The fig and pancetta made an intriguing combination that I will never forget. The flavors were both sweet and savory with a hint of heat. The stuffing was light and fluffy and packed full of complex combinations that came across as clean and bright with undertones of deep mystery. I fell in love with quail right there and then.
My dad’s calamari was awesome as usual. It wasn’t at all greasy and it was plenty crunchy. The spicy tomato sauce that comes with the fried squid pieces is one of my favorite sauces ever made.
My mom really loved her asparagus salad. It looked bright and fresh and from what I could tell by the empty plate, it was quite good.
After a nice wait and a truly bizarre but completely interesting story from my dad, about a young kid who wears red sweaters and dungarees, an Egyptian dentist and some sort of counting game involving nickels and a wine bottle, our main courses were served.
While I contemplated my dad’s bizarre tale, I took my first bite of lamb. Thoughts of strange stories evaporated and thoughts of amazing sweet and savory meat entered.
Holy crap. This was outstanding lamb. It was perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned. The balsamic glaze wasn’t overpowering, and the grill gave it a nice crust that I never had the pleasure of tasting before. This was one awesome plate of food. Obsessed.
My side of pasta was also quite delicious. The home-made pasta was cooked perfectly and had a really nice flavor. The tomatoes popped in my mouth and it wasn’t over dressed with oil.
They know that they’re doing when it comes to pasta at this place. I couldn’t pass it up, but I also couldn’t come close to finishing it. Luckily, our server happily provided me with a take-home box so I was able to chow down later on that night.
My dad wasn’t a huge fan of the Gorgonzola butter that came with the sirloin, and sadly it tainted his whole main course. My mom’s sea bass was outstanding. She let me taste some if it, and this fish was cooked perfectly. It was juicy and flaky and quite simply, delicious.
When our plates were cleared, my mom made the executive decision that we’d splurge for dessert. I wasn’t confident that I could fit anything more in my tummy, but when I heard they had fresh strawberry gelato, I was on board.
My dad selected the cheesecake, which he later gave an A+, and my mom opted for the Affogato, a scoop of vanilla gelato doused with a shot of hot espresso.
After we finished our sweet treats, it was time to say goodbye to the now completely packed Trattoria Lisina. I can’t imagine a better place to celebrate New Years Eve.
What’d you do for the holiday??
What’d you do for the holiday??
Want to go?
Driftwood, TX 78619