There's been a lot of buzz around town since Pago restaurant opened two weeks ago at 9th & 9th. I stopped by yesterday for lunch at Pago, to meet with owners of Parallel Wines and to sip some of their new releases. We had a reservation, thankfully. My first piece of advice regarding Pago is don't just show up and expect an empty table. Even at lunchtime the place was mobbed and there was a wait for tables. The space is a small one; make a reservation.
We kicked off lunch by sharing bite-sized potato and caviar "pillows," which paired beautifully with 2007 Parallel Napa Valley Chardonnay. The wine just became available last month and is Parallel's first Chardonnay offering. It certainly tastes like a helluva lot more than the $33 price suggests.
An appetizer of cinnamon-infused beets with truffle honey was as delicious as it was beautiful -- and I'm not even particularly fond of beets. My G1 phone's camera doesn't really do justice to the beauty of these dishes. Great phone; crappy camera.
Better still was a simple, but sensational preparation of grilled/charred scallions atop grilled country bread with a zippy romesco sauce and aged balsamic vinegar.
Pago sports an open-air kitchen, where the interested can watch Co-Executive Chefs Adam Findlay and Michael Richey work their culinary magic. Owner/operator Scott Evans patrols the front of the house, greeting Pago patrons and helping out with food and wine pairing suggestions. By the way, Pago has a great selection of beers, selected with the help of Squatters' Brewmaster Jenny Talley. The restaurant also has a cruvenet system for keeping open bottles of wine fresh and, thus, can offer all of their wines either by the glass or bottle.
Scott recommended the Waygu steak salad, which, everyone agreed, was phenomenal -- especially when paired with 2008 Parallel Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($125) - a huge wine that's still remarkably approachable, even at its young age. My Utah elk bratwurst redefined the notion of what bratwurst can be and also totally rocked the Parallel Cab.
Pago is off to a very fast start, with lines out the door most evenings. The main knock I've heard is that there's nowhere really to wait for a table to open up. The restaurant is a bit on the cramped side. So, wannabe diners wind up hovering over other customers' tables while they eat. Like I said, it behooves you to call in a reservation ahead of time.