That elusive day that only arrives every four years known as Leap Day brings (yet another) cause for celebration and so we made February 29th this month's date for our Posse Dinner Group. Indeed, this is that First Fridays dinner group as it was named by our beloved Carolyn and indeed, we have yet to land on an actual first Friday of the month again. This month, Leap Day evening was the time and date and the locale, as it would turn out, would be something special, indeed.
This extra given day was an odd duck, for sure, as it began with an early morning meeting following a night of driving home through wild storms. Following the meeting, I spent the day helping out at Willow Springs as the store's proprietors and our friends Daphne and Jim enjoyed a well-deserved ski trip. It was a kick hangin' with Tabitha for the day and a great time to sample their goat cheese and artichoke appetizer pizza...yum.
The Leap Day highlight most assuredly arrived in the evening, however. Another restaurant had been chosen for the Posse dinner prior to this (each month's restaurant choice is chosen by a different Posse member), but a chance meeting moved us to a new setting: Pandolfi's Deli.
Pandolfi's occupies a non-descript building that's nestled in the charming little enclave of Columbus Park near the River Market area. Posse member Carl had met Jake Hendershot, the proprietor, at a function and Jake invited our group to Pandolfi's for our Leap night shindig. Jake's parents were the owners of the original Pandolfi's in Liberty and he re-opened the business in Columbus Park, an area of KC that is rich with Italian heritage. As their website recounts, many of the staff at Pandolfi's represent the spanning of four generations of the Pandolfi family. The man that is the centerpiece of the Pandolfi's logo is great-grandfather Giuseppi Pandolfi.
I will admit that I had only taken a cursory glance at the website before joining my Posse friends for the evening. I only noted the various deli items and was still looking forward to a delicious sandwich from an authentic deli. What I didn't realize was that these fine folks were opening Pandolfi's just for us that night and the chef de cuisine, GrantCansler, had created a menu tailored just for the Posse. Needless to say, my excitement dialed up to 11 at that point.
We settled into our seats in the cozy dining area and were quickly served baskets of warm, crusty bread with butter. We ordered bottles of wine; the ladies preferring the sweeter Vino Dei Fratelli Muscato Puglia, we gents selecting the Dievole La Vendemmia Chianti Classico. The chef presented us with a smooth amuse bouche: a silky seafood bisque-like crema served in a demitasse espresso cup. Our antipasti course were two crostinis; one topped with creamy housemade ricotta with olive oil and the other with a white bean salad. Both very good, but they book-ended the joyous centerpiece...their version of shrimp and grits featuring a splendiferously spicy shrimp mix topping a polenta round. Next up was the primi course; an arugula salad that perfectly paired the bitter greens with creamy goat cheese and sweet, crunchy candied pine nuts.
Our pasta course was next and one that my eyes rolling up from delight....truffled penne pasta with mushrooms and pinot grigio. Creamy and delightful. The secondi course came next and was equally wonderful: seared, melt-in-your-mouth scallops served over amazing saffron risotto with wilted spinach. Finally came the decadent dolce course, made-from-scratch tiramisu and cannoli. We swooned over dessert as the servers brought steaming cups of Brazilian coffee and complimentary glasses of Prosecco. We hoisted our glasses in a toast to Carolyn, who will be on her way to New Jersey on Monday.
Our checks arrived with leather-bound books that we were encouraged to write in; relating our dining experience. We wrote as creatively as our food-addled minds would allow us to, but nothing could quite suffice other than Deb's assurance that we had found the "perfect bite".
Our entire Leap night experience was indeed a delightful surprise. We were utterly seduced by Pandolfi's; beginning to end. I can't wait to come back and bring Keith for dinner and I also look forward to trying out the deli. Pandolfi's is only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday night, so make your reservation! Thank you, Pandolfi's...you made for one memorable Leap Day.