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Trattoria Trombino (restaurant), Albuquerque, NM

Update, September 20, 1997: The remarks about the calamari below are, sadly, no longer true. I got a plate of calamari with some tough pieces on it and sent it back. The second try was little better. I still recommend this place, but they are no longer the reference calamari in the state. For the best calamari, try Seasons.

I've been hearing good things about this place for years, and now I can agree with them based on first-hand experience.

To start with, I've never had calamari that was more tender than Trombino's. At least 95%% of the calamari I've had in restaurants has been slightly to severely overcooked and tough. Not here! I've had jello that was chewier than these tiny, jewel-like morsels of squid. The batter was extremely light and not at all greasy. Hard to say what was in the batter, but I'd guess both cornmeal and flour. The dipping sauce was a variant of tartar sauce, nothing to shout about but a good match for the calamari.

I had one of the lunch specials: cheese tortellini with salmon, mushrooms, and a few sun-dried tomatoes in a very nicely balanced cream sauce. I was pleasantly surprised that none of the food was over-salted, yet the flavor was very nice. There was not a huge amount of salmon in this, maybe an ounce or so, but it is listed under pasta dishes, so the salmon is more of a flavoring. The portion was adequate but not huge, just fine for a lunch. There were a lot of well-dressed businessmen around, so I decided not to lick out the bowl.

As for the bread, I'd prefer the sourdough across Academy at Seagull Street, but that style is not very Italian. Trombino's is a family-run, highly authentic restaurant. As Italian bread goes, this was quite good. A solid, tasty crust, and a light-textured but substantial bread. Given a choice between Trombino's bread with butter, and the amazing, chewy ciabatta made in-house by Il Foranio in Palo Alto, I'd take the latter. But considering this is Albuquerque, I got no complaint.

Nice decor, with a lot of trompe l'oeil detailing, like the brand-new wooden shutters painted to look like they were old and cracked. Service was excellent. Prices are a bit above average but not at all out of line for the fine food, service and atmosphere.

Directions: From the I-25/I-40 interchange, take I-25 north to the San Mateo exit. Drive south on San Mateo a short distance to Academy and turn left. Trattoria Trombino is a long block on your left.

(reviewed January 19, 1995)

See also: Shipman's favorite Albuquerque Italian restaurants
Previous: La Piazza, Albuquerque, NM
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John W. Shipman,
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