I don't know what was more beautiful: the twinkling lights glowing through the chilled blue water goblets, or the velvety blue sky just starting to show a handful of faint summer stars. But soon a bubbling glass of prosecco would arrive with its own kind of sparkle, and a basket of warm focaccia and crisp, spindly breadsticks. We started with the Mare Nostrum, a substantial composition of exquisitely fresh octopus and squid grilled a la plancha, garnished with sweet, pristine halves of cherry tomato and arugula fronds, the plate daubed with colorful, flavorful sauces and a striking contrast of squid ink. A small crostino, crisp
and buttery, held a garlicky mince of sauteed clam, providing a perfect sampling of the fruits of a Tuscan sea.
Circo offers an impressive array of housemade pastas, and knowing it would be hard to choose from between temptations, also for the option to select any two varieties plated in half-portions. Thus, I tried pillowy, milky cheese ravioli draped with market-fresh zucchini blossoms and abundant shavings of luxurious, aromatic white summer truffle. Alongside sat a fat pici tinted with squid ink: voluptuous, thick-twisted noodles sauced in savory, chili-flecked seafood ragu- a lusty and robust tangle of flavor.
While I wasn't sure I needed dessert after all of that, the masterpiece that arrived- just a single cannoli with a perfectly round orb of tart blood orange sorbet- was so whimsically decorated and artfully plated that it felt fit for royalty. Which, in perfect keeping with any and all of the restaurants of the Maccioni Group, is how this night left me feeling, too.
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