Cardellino (Italian for Goldfinch) opened last week in the location formerly occupied by Brooklyn Girl at the corner of Goldfinch and Ft. Stockton in MIssion Hills.
First visit and they are firing on all pistons. They are busy, they have adequate staff and the food is - and this should really be no surprise - excellent. The bar is still in the middle of the restaurant and it was hopping, keeping 3 bartenders busy. The dining room, for which reservations are very much necessary at this point, was packed. There are a number of communal high tops for walk-ins. We ended up at a high top and had some fun conversations with the other others at our table.
Ceasr Salad…a tad over dressed and a tad salty from the parmesan, but otherwise a really good rendition. There may, or may not, be anchovies in the dressing, but to be sure, the salad came with 2 tempura battered and deep fried anchovies on top. They were quite tasty, and not the least bit strong or fishy. This salad is ample for 2 and could be stretched to feed 3.
Tuna Hamachi…stellar dish that was inhaled in a matter of a few minutes. Impeccably fresh tuna with fresh citrus notes and fresno chiles for some heat.
Polenta w/Mushroom Ragu…soft polenta scented with truffle and topped with more of a fricasse of mushrooms. It was declared very good, but not as good as the hamachi
Pizza…there are a bunch on the menu. We ordered the one with castelvetrano olives, 'ndjua, mozzarella and Calabrian chiles. The crust was spectacular, light, chewy, just enough char. All pizzas come with a small condiment dish of parm, red pepper flakes and ranch dressing. Probably the best ranch dressing I’ve ever eaten, clearly not Hidden Valley from a gallon jar, and yes, it works with the pizza. Heresy for all you purists, but PDG.