As you all know I recently went to Marin County to visit the NoCal branch of my family, the Greens. I love them so much and had the time of my life!!! So when my SoCal sister Karen suggested my NoCal bro Bill and his wife Sharon take me to one of their favorite eateries, Picco Restaurant in Larkspur, I just grabbed the camera Sharon had just given me!!! (Yes, given me — thank you, Sharon for being my sister — heck with that “-in-law” stuff!!!) Also joining us were my darling niece Chelsea and my nephew Tyler, whom I adore, and his beautiful bride Nadja — what a catch! Every time I see her she’s nicer and sweeter than the time before!

The one word which comes to mind when I think about this restaurant is “Fantastic!!!” I am a huge fan of family-style eating, especially featuring “tapas.” The waiter at Picco was extremely helpful and informative (regrettably a rarity in this day and age). Our wonderful little group was tucked into a cozy booth. Sharon ordered for all of us and the eating began with Sweetwater Oysters on the half shell with a chile cilantro mignonette(which went so fast I didn’t get a pic!) and Tuna Tatare with Asian pear, shiso, sesame, soy and sticky rice cakes. The latter was my favorite: The tuna was extremely fresh and each of the many flavors delicately extended easily into the next — delightful!!!

Moving through the courses the waiters and bussers were extremely attentive in the removal and replacement plates, and in keeping drinks and water glasses full. No mistake, this makes all the difference in the world to a restaurant person like myself. The next course to arrive was Broccoli Au Gratin with caramelized onions with sharp cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs, broiled to a bubbly, unsurpassed delectable-ness. I actually have the recipe for this one and it’s well worth making. A dish of the risotto of the day (made every half hour) and Pappardelle with duck confit, escarole, sage, crispy parsnips, complemented superbly with red wine. Then a dish of brussels sprouts with kimchee, Thai basil and crisp panchetta, which was absolutely awesome.

The foods kept coming: The Pacific seabass with sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), Sicilian green and black olives,parsley and olive oil deftly played the sweet flesh of the very light fish against the savory olive tapenade — extraordinary! And finally the Creekstone New York Steak “Tuscan Style” with arugula, grana cheese and Fiordolio (a very special olive oil) was a phenomenal finale to a magnificent meal. That, however, does not include dessert!!!

We laughed and talked and took pics, and ordered some decaf coffee (which instead of mediocre “eating out decaf” was a delicious decaffeinated French Roast), and two desserts: Butterscotch Bread Pudding with dates and cinnamon cream and Quince Paste, and Soft Center Chocolate Madeleines with baby hazelnut chocolate milkshakes!!! OMG!!! Excuse me, I kind of lost my mind after this, as I don’t usually eat this much at one sitting, let alone this many spectacularly tasty combinations of food. Not that my own fare is nothing to write home about — I write to you folks about it all the time!! — but I was inspired by the sheer amount of creativity that went into the planning of these dishes (not to mention the expert way Sharon ordered them).

Picco’s chefs Bruce Hill and Chris Whatley are proud supporters of sustainable producers such as Mariquita Farm, County Line Harvest and a long list of others. I’m thrilled we had the pleasure of dining there!!! Anyone interested in the Cauliflower Au Gratin recipe, let me know and I’ll post it. It was out of this world and the reason Picco was recommended to us in the first place.

I hereby give Picco my highest stamp of approval, and our meal was wonderful and truly enjoyed by all!!!
© Jennifer Green Alger 2010