Vegans and omnivores alike converged on Montclair’s Trattoria Rustica last Wednesday for the first of many pop-up dinners from SO Tasty Vegan. This was the type of gourmet vegan dinner I usually have to trek into Manhattan for, so I was thrilled to be able to enjoy such a magnificent meal so close to home.
Dinner was a four-course delight, and it started off with chilled spring pea and roasted shallot bisque, which was topped with cilantro mint relish and cashew crema. Soup was followed by salad, which consisted of grilled endive and roasted radish atop spring greens with shiitake bacon. Yes, you read that correctly - shiitake bacon. Meaty shiitake mushrooms were thinly sliced and cooked to crispy, smoky perfection.
The evening’s entrée was Dijon Portobello carpaccio, a millet kalamata croquette, beet crudo, cannellini and rosemary purée, basil crème fraiche and smoky chili oil. All of that delicious goodness was followed by dessert, which consisted of caramelized banana ice cream, Frangelico macerated berries, strawberry and pink peppercorn coulis and chocolate shavings.
SO Tasty Vegan is the project of vegan chef Sally Owens, a.k.a. "SO". Sally has always been innovative in the kitchen – not always by choice due to a dairy allergy – but when she went vegan she quickly learned it was her entire lifestyle that was transformed, not merely her diet. SO tasty vegan’s pop-up dinners at Trattoria Rustica came about because chef and owner Pat Turano recognized the need for both vegan and gluten-free food in Montclair. He asked Sally if she’d like to cook something up, and the SO Tasty Pop-Up dinner was born.
SO Tasty Vegan Pop-Up dinners will take place at Trattoria Rustica every Wednesday (with the exception of May 8th). The pre-fixe menu will always be vegan and gluten-free, but the offerings will vary from week to week. Follow SO Tasty Vegan’s Facebook pagefor weekly updates.
Trattoria Rustica is located at517 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair.