Italian cuisine was my first food love and Celestino brought all of my warm, fuzzy memories of delicious Italian meals to the foreground of my brain, making me fall in love with Italian food all over again.
Celestino had been in my peripherals for the better part of fifteen years and now that I have sampled its fare I cannot ever imagine my life without them. I had been thinking, no, fantasizing about Celestino since J and I went there in late summer. It was an impromptu decision to go there the first time around and I did not have my camera handy. Sadness because I really wanted this review to be in 2011 for my top 2011 eats list. Oh, well! Just one more reason to go back.
As I was feeling more and more restless over these last few weeks and more confident about my not giving a fuck what people think of how I look (it is visually obvious I have been going through some rough issues) I craved Celestino more and more. Finally I caught J off his athletic diet and planted the idea in his head too. We made our way back to Celestino and had another wonderful evening. I wound up ordering the same appetizer and entree as I did the first time.
Jumbo Scallops with cannellini beans and sage ($13.5)
On both occasions my scallops were cooked perfectly, no small feat for lesser chefs (myself included, sadly). However, I found that this second time around my broth was a little over seasoned, a pinch too much salt maybe. I’d still recommend this appetizer though because the scallops are the focus and I have had it taste immaculately in the past.
Pappardelle con Fagiano e Morelle ($15)
Wide Fettuccine with pheasant and Morels Mushrooms. Oh. My. Lord. I didn’t think anything could usurp Fettuccine Alfredo or a really awesome seafood spaghetti but this dish beats all. I know it isn’t the prettiest of dishes, but those supple homemade noodles married in mushroom sauce with the tenderest flakes of pheasant meat is probably the most harmonious Italian dish I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Risotto with rock shrimp & vegetables in white cream sauce & truffle oil
The risotto special of the evening. While J enjoyed this dish, it was as imaginative as it looks above – that is to say, not really much at all. We don’t remember what he had last time but we do recall he enjoyed it (and that it was also probably shrimp related).
Vanilla bean panna cotta with strawberries
This was my first panna cotta and I could not have had a more ideal first experience. Panna cotta always looked like flavorless white jello to me, but when J started talking it up and explained it was a kind of Italian custard, I grew interested. I’m glad J ordered this as our dessert – it was bursting with vanilla and the fact that it was fresh sliced strawberries rather than a nasty strawberry “sauce” immensely impressed and pleased us.
I also ordered a cocktail from the bar.
Lemon Drop with sugared rim ($9)
I’m shamed to say this was too strong for me and I could not finish it. Good to mention though because if you’re not a weakling like me you’ll be happy to know the drinks are stiff.
Celestino has ample indoor seating with private indoor and outdoor rooms for parties. A covered front outdoor dining area is where J and I sat the first time, warmed by ceiling-mounted heaters. I actually prefer this area to the main dining room. We’ve been there when it was packed and when it was quiet and both times we were received by friendly and attentive staff.
I look forward to further blogging of my affair with Celestino. If I can ever break away from ordering the pappardelle (not bloody likely).
Celestino Ristorante & Bar 141 South Lake Avenue Pasadena, CA 91101 website
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About the reviewer
I am a freelance travel/food writer with my own hobby blog, Glass of Win. I am a regularly featured writer for Visit the Place Los Angeles magazine and online community.
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