One of the newest additions to the Bozeman dining scene is a place called Blacksmith Italian.
Ashlee Yerrick | Wednesday Apr. 30th, 2014
One of the newest additions to the Bozeman dining scene is a place called Blacksmith Italian, and this cozy, comfort food-style kitchen is tucked away in the same little plaza as Seven Sushi, Moberry and Sola Cafe off of Kagy Blvd. Attention Bozemanites: This is not that far of a drive from downtown Main St, therefore, please stop acting as if you’re being asked to complete one hell of a cross country road trip just to have some dinner. I want to personally assure you that it’s totally worth the short trek across town. My husband and I were overdue for a date night, and so we were looking forward to hitting up one of the many, up and coming restaurants that have been making their way into our beloved Bozeman community, and you better believe we drove all the way from the Four Corners area to experience Blacksmith Italian.
Upon entering the dimly lit eating establishment, we were cordially greeted by the pleasant hostess named Charlotte. We had requested and reserved a place at the bar rail because that’s our preference, and so we were immediately seated in two of the mere six place settings available at the rail. This perspective allowed us to oversee the open kitchen and appreciate the immense preparation being put into each and every dish in the tiny, but functional kitchen space. I was really happy to have such a view, although this specific bar rail looked like something out of small-scale nightclub. Maybe it was the neon blue lighting or merely the impression it bestowed, but it definitely was not conducive to the rest of the décor and open space. Regardless, I wasn’t going to let a neon blue bar rail become a deal breaker nor dictate my overall impression of the seemingly wonderful people working here or the beautifully presented dishes that I’d already noticed being delivered to surrounding tables from the nearby kitchen.
The dinner menu seemed like a perfect balance of variety and quality, and every dish sounded enticing in its own way. For example, the menu is heavily weighted on the Italian side with options such as an antipasti plate, homemade ricotta gnocchi, and tiramisu, but there are also several other options along the lines of local trout risotto, roasted bone marrow and Montana lamb.
Neither my husband nor myself planned on ordering the steamed mussels that were under the small plates section of the menu because we had just prepared coconut curry mussels the previous weekend in the comforts of our own home. With that being said, when asked about the lamb meatballs versus the arancini versus the steamed mussels, the server’s response and description for each dish pointed us right to the mussels, and so we decided to have our second dose of mussels in just one week. The simplicity of the mussels was one thing we both really appreciated. They had a light, white wine-based broth, and you could still detect the subtle brininess that reminds you of the saltwater seas. They were accompanied by two grilled toast points, which were desperately needed, in the case of sopping up all the goodness the mussels were swimming in, and yes, we ordered additional bread because that’s what we always do when we enjoy a bowl of mussels. The only suggestion I have is to add a sprinkling of fresh, vibrant parsley down over the top for that little “pop” of color (I’m just saying). Also, the Alos Lageder, a pinot grigio, which I chose to go alongside this starter dish, was forgettable and a bit overpriced (and under-poured) in my opinion. I think a glass of prosecco would have been a better choice since the options for white wines by the glass are a bit more limited on the menu here. I’d suggest purchasing an entire bottle of a nice white if that is what you’re in the mood for, beings they had more “bottle” choices.
We both agreed we wanted a salad for the subsequent course, and I was eyeing up the grilled Caesar, while Jeremy was contemplating the white anchovy and dandelion salad. Personally, I always like to try the Caesar salad at a place such as Blacksmith’s and especially when I see that it is “grilled” as opposed to the traditional style – homemade Caesar dressing is also a persuading factor. My husband’s a bit more hesitant with the “grilled” idea and says he doesn’t like warm lettuce, but because we wanted to share one rather than each order our own, we ultimately (and my husband reluctantly) went with the grilled Caesar per our server’s recommendation. Now unlike my glass of pinot grigio I had ordered, the Caesar salad at Blacksmith’s was anything but forgettable, and let’s just note for the record this particular Caesar salad completely changed Jeremy’s perspective about some hot romaine. This salad was beautifully grilled over an open flame and was served alongside a perfectly, charred half of a lemon. The dressing was just the right amount of garlic and anchovy, although I wish the white anchovies that you can order for an additional charge automatically came with the salad. We chose to decline this option (and the upcharge), even though I believe the extra little fish would’ve taken this salad to the next level. Overall, a very delicious salad, and I would have to say that without a doubt it’s in my top five of all the Caesar salads I’ve eaten. Next time I’ll specifically order it lightly dressed because it was a little over dressed for my liking, but again, only a minor detail.
As for our entrées, we chose two completely different offerings so that we could share and have a little variety between the two of us. I decided on the wild Alaskan salmon with basil pesto, pea ravioli and pecorino cream sauce. I ordered the salmon medium to medium rare, and Cory, the master chef, executed this request perfectly. The presentation was gorgeous and was very tasty overall, but again, as with the overly dressed Caesar, my salmon dish seemed a little too “heavy” due to an over-abundance of pecorino cream sauce. Now I love pecorino cheese and I also love cream sauce, but the delicate flavor of the pea raviolis were next to non-existent due to the cream sauce being so overpowering, and if the menu hadn’t specifically stated “pea raviolis,” then I don’t believe I would’ve been able to decipher what kind of raviolis they even were. Also, when you have such a beautiful fish as wild Alaskan salmon, it’s a shame that it would be paired with such a heavy sauce. On the flip side, I loved every individual component of this dish, but I think a more robust type of meat, such as wild boar or grass-fed beef, would’ve married together more nicely with the other elements than the seafood did. At least the salmon wasn’t drowned and lost in the sauce – it was almost kept “separate” from the cream-laden ravioli, and my dinner was still very visually appealing and delectably tasty to say the least.
Now as for the second entrée that was ordered, my man decided on the orecchiette dish (orecchiette are the pig-ear shaped pasta), and the entirety of the dish included some spicy Italian sausage, Italian greens, (a ton of) pecorino cheese and homemade pomadoro sauce. This was nicely balanced and flavorful overall, but we both agreed that we’d like to have seen bigger, meatier hunks of spicy sausage as opposed to the smaller pieces that were incorporated into the other fresh and wonderful ingredients. Also, we chose to order a side of brussel sprouts to share, and we’re both super happy that we did. The brussel sprouts here are serious, and I would order these time and time again. They come in a little bowl, are caramelized to perfection and are served with crispy bits of pancetta and (again, a ton of) freshly grated pecorino that resembles a good snowfall down over the small mountain of brussel sprouts. Need I say more? Didn’t think so.
So while the desserts looked exceptionally amazing coming directly out of the open kitchen, we politely declined due to the lack of room in our bellies and vowed to experience something sweet on our next visit. I’m quite certain my pick will be the butterscotch budino, with all of its caramel, sea salt and whipped cream goodness sounding entirely too good to pass up - next time.
Although there were a few tiny details that I would’ve changed, for example, adding a little parsley here, a little less dressing and cream sauce there and less freshly grated pecorino overall, these minute and correctable issues would in no way hinder me from returning to Blacksmith Italian whenever I get the chance. We had nothing but a positive experience with all of the staff, with each individual being highly personable and going well out of their way to come over and chat with us to ensure we were enjoying every aspect of our highly memorable evening.
You can tell by watching Cory that he takes an extreme amount of pride in everything that he puts out to be served to his customers, and that type of dedication and creativity says a lot about the type of chef he aspires to be and the kind of person it seems he already is. It was enjoyable to watch him and experience his personality through the amazing food creations that he so joyously invents.
Homemade Italian Comfort Food, Innovative Plates, Seafood
Beer & Wine Only (Mimosas & Pitchers of Beer Also Available)
1130am – 230pm (Lunch) & 5-9pm (Dinner), Daily
Cozy, Open Kitchen-Style
Food – 5
Prices – 4
Atmosphere – 4
Service – 5