Restaurant Review: Andiamo!
Te amo, Andiamo!
By: Patricia Greathouse
Published online: Friday, June 29, 2012
Appeared in: Pasateimpo
How do I love Andiamo!?
3 ½ chiles
322 Garfield St. 505-995-9595
Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; dinner 5-9:30 p.m. nightly
Patio dining in season, Noise level: intimate to bustling, Takeout & parcooked food to finish at home, Handicapped-accessible
In short order:
Cozy, with the feel of a friendly
neighborhood place, Andiamo!
takes pride in serving freshly
prepared food made from quality
ingredients. With its Italian-inspired
pastas, small pizzas, and protein-with-
veggie dishes, the restaurant walks
a fine line, managing to be a festive
choice yet still down-to-earth. While
the quality and attention to
preparation are on a par with
some of Santa Fe’s best-known
restaurants, the prices are far
more affordable. Recommended:
polenta, duck legs, beef tenderloin
steak, and tiramisu.
*Ratings range from 0 to 4 chiles, including half chiles.
This reflects the reviewer's experience with regard
to food and drink, atmosphere, service, and value
Let me count the ways: the
ingredients are fresh, the food is delicious and unpretentious, the staff is friendly, there’s a good selection of
reasonably priced wine, and it feels like a cozy neighborhood place.
Andiamo! celebrates its 17th birthday this year. That’s
relatively old for a Santa Fe restaurant, but there are
good reasons for its longevity. First, owner Joan Gilcrest
has an unusual approach to running the business; she
lets employees hire but holds them responsible for their
choices; consequently, there hasn’t been a new server in
four years. Second, servers spend time working in the
kitchen before they go on the floor, so they know the
menu well. Third, each new employee has to work with
each of the old hands before he or she is vetted.
However, perhaps the best reason for Andiamo!’s ripe
old age is chef Esteban Parra, who has manned the kitchen
since 1999, a few years after Andiamo! opened. His most
recent kitchen hire was eight years ago, and the seasoned
staff enables him to maintain consistency and quality.
While much of the food is healthful and balanced, there
are also luxuries like lasagna with handmade pasta and a
Bolognese sauce. Parra and Gilcrest insist that each dish be
prepared to order, and they use locally sourced ingredients
Many of Andiamo!’s dishes have the pleasing textural
contrast of crispy outside and creamy inside. The crispy
duck legs, Scottish salmon, polenta, saffron risotto cake,
and even the profiteroles follow that pattern. An additional
touch that adds savor, moisture, and contrast to some
dishes is the light house-made broth that skims the bottom
of many plates.
The appetizers are uniformly delicious. The polenta
has a golden and crisp top, a smooth, moist, and light
interior, and a creamy rosemary Gorgonzola sauce. An
antipasti plate, also full of contrasts, comes with excellent
finocchiona (fennel-seed-flecked salami), traditional Toscana
salami, watercress, thinly sliced fennel, and radicchio. They
create a fresh, vibrant background for creamy mozzarella,
olives, and roasted garlic.
The soup of the night, a spectacularly orange carrot
purée, was full of simple sweet and savory flavor. The
garlicky Caesar salad, whole leaves of perfect small
romaine with a dressing made with anchovies, is dusted
with Parmesan and tossed with small crunchy croutons.
Tender meat is the hallmark of the crispy duck legs. They
come with tangy sautéed spinach, house-dried tomatoes,
and turnips with a side of grilled polenta.
A moist Scottish salmon (the fish of the night), lightly
cooked and served on a saffron risotto cake, had a drizzle
of bright salsa verde. The fresh vegetables on the side
— asparagus, zucchini, sugar snap peas, and spinach —
were cooked perfectly and simply dressed with lemon,
olive oil, chile flakes, and salt. The veal scaloppini was a
little thick, but the caper sauce more than made up
for the chew. Sautéed spinach and garlic potatoes complete
The Sweet Grass beef special, New Mexican grass-fed
tenderloin steak, was superb. A man at the next table
remarked to the server that he couldn’t remember when
he’d had a better steak. I agreed, although tenderloin is
normally not my favorite cut; however, this piece was
tender and beefy tasting, grilled perfectly, topped with
sautéed shiitake mushrooms, and accompanied by sides
of mixed vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes.
Andiamo!’s selection of good wines at reasonable prices
has a special focus on Italian selections. A Friulan Anselmi
white wine, delightfully light and fruity, came in at well
under $40 a bottle. The Zardetto prosecco was a nice, light,
bubbly start to the meal, and the Arneis white — often
referred to as white Barolo because of its tannin-softening
uses in the formation of Nebbiolo-based wines — was
excellent with food. The restaurant offers “Vino Schmooze”
educational wine evenings.
Desserts are worth the indulgence, and none are too
sweet. They range from fruit granita and a plate of very
good cookies to a rich chocolate pot de crème with a finish
of chocolate sauce and profiteroles — a wonderful thing to
share. Tiramisu, moist and java flavored, is also enough for
two who want just a few rich bites. To sum up Andiamo!’s
appeal, here’s quote from a conversation I overheard in a
coffee shop: “Let’s go to Andiamo! instead. The food is just
as good, and we can’t ask [our hosts] to pay for ...” Fill in
the blank with high-profile fine-dining restaurant names.
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