Montecito, a suburb of Santa Barbara, California, is arguably one of the most affluent communities in the United States. It caters to the rich and the famous who own palatial homes in a paradisal environment and weather. Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres are the only names I'll drop here, but you get the picture. Trattoria Mollie is very subdued both in decor and decorum, and it comes highly recommended by Miss Winfrey herself, who waxes poetic about their Polpette alla Mollie or turkey meatballs.
I didn't try the meatballs because I'd been warned they were spicy, and that's a deal-breaker for me, so I went for one of my favorites, Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, except I asked for pink sauce instead of tomato. I waited with excited anticipation expecting some kind of masterful execution of the dish considering where I was and the prices on the menu. No such magic was delivered, and the pink sauce had an overwhelming tomato quality and none of the required creaminess. The few drops of Buffalo mozzarella were delicious, though.
John ordered the Tagliata al Martini, grilled filet mignon in a red martini sauce with Belgian endive. He wasn't impressed in any specific way, but was thoroughly unimpressed with the portion. And he didn't even touch the endive!
Main courses are followed by a dainty dish of different Italian biscotti on a doily to prepare your palate for the transition from savory to sweet. Now I was left with a conundrum: If I followed my own rule, dessert would not be an option after such a disappointing meal. On the other hand, I knew this kitchen and its workers were of exceptional quality, so from a purely emotional standpoint, I couldn't leave without trying their sweets. We shared a Tiramisu and the fog finally lifted. I'm not a Tiramisu fan, but this one left me aching for more. Without a doubt, it had to be the lightest, most delicately flavor-balanced, satisfying version of this Italian favorite I have ever had. It could make a convert out of me.
I left this lovely establishment with two points for reflection: First, you may hold certain personalities in high esteem, but you can't expect to share their tastes, and second, I have to rethink my dessert rule!
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