Chef Bruce Kalman spent a year perfecting his pickling talents prior to opening up Union with partner Marie Petulla, a new restaurant located in Old Town Pasadena.
Kalman, a James Beard nominated Rising Star Chef, winner of both Chopped and Knife Fight, has plenty of experience. He is alumna of celebrated restaurants including Park Avenue Café in New York, Spiaggia in Chicago, Il Piatto in New Mexico, Chelsea’s Kitchen in Phoenix, The Misfit in Santa Monica and The Churchill in West Hollywood.
His new 50-seat bar and eatery is rustic and comfortable with a cement bar, exposed brick, wood tables and chairs and a huge chalkboard features the nightly specials as well as a famous Alice Waters quote, “Let things taste the way they are.”
The Northern Italian fare does just that, while adding California ingredients to traditional dishes. Appetizers include ricotta crostini with pickled onions and pancetta; Pacific sardines with ranco gordo beans, citrus salad and saba and house made charcuterie and pickles. Pastas are all handmade and include tagliatelle with “head and shoulder” pork ragu and gremolata, spelt cavatelli with broccoli di ciccio, and pesto di rucola and pecorino. Main standout dishes are the spring lamb with grist and tool grains, romesco and pickled green garlic; bistecca with porcini mushrooms, wild arugula and marrow-onion jam and seafood cioppino with aromatic vegetables and rouille.
Desserts include almond olive oil cake with blood oranges and honeycomb gelato, gianduji chocolate budino with cocoa nib, truffle salt and Ligurian olive oil and lemon verbena panacotta with balsamic pickled strawberries and ameretti cookies.