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Thursday, February 23,2012

A laudable weekend brunch

By Clay Fong

Sunday morning was rough. I had injured my knee the day before, resulting in an ER visit and an unsure prognosis. My friend Ann suggested an ameliorative brunch, and I was game, but not necessarily up for one of those popular joints with a long wait and hip vibe. Nor was I necessarily enthused about hitting an in-and-out coffee shop for quick ham and eggs. I sought something a touch more elevated than that; a place where I could have a leisurely prepared meal with a few more flourishes.

Ann proposed Laudisio, where we were met by another friend, Lauren. Upon entering, I took the elegant but unpretentious setting as just what the doctor ordered, if he or she was prescribing ambience over say, knee immobilizers. The servers were attentive without being overly familiar, the atmosphere was peaceful, and the menu was divided into egg dishes, sweet specialties and brunch pizzas. More rarefied selections included an $11 duck confit accompanied by poached eggs and potato cake, while those with a smaller appetite might opt for the $6 blend of yogurt, fruit and granola.

I started off with a $3 aranciata fresca, a house-made cousin of the citrusy soft drink popularized by San Pellegrino. Laudisio’s version features organic orange juice and simple syrup, although in this case the beverage would be better served by a whisper, rather than an inside voice, of sweetener. Nonetheless, it was an agreeable refresher lacking the acidity of its imported counterpart.

Next up was a helping of $5 seppole, or donut holes dusted with granulated sugar. Ann pointed out that powdered sugar might have been a better choice and, like the aranciata, a smidge less sweet would have benefited this pastry. But a quick bite vaporized this quibble, as the piping hot and nearly creamy but crumbly interior carried the day.

Ann opted for the $13 prosciutto crudo pizza with a $4 upcharge for a gluten-free crust. I suspect that I would enjoy the fuller body of a wheat foundation, but I also know that many gluten-free diners don’t have a choice, and I certainly didn’t have any problem with the crispness of this house-made crust. The toppings of arugula, eggs, crushed tomato, mozzarella and cured meat would have made for a fine omelet in their own right. Each element was distinctive, but none overwhelmed the others.

Lauren had the $13 bistro steak and eggs, garnished with bright arugula. The Never Ever steak carried a clean, grassy flavor, and was one of the better cuts of meat I’ve had in this breakfast standard. The hearty home fries were properly crisp on the outside, with the requisite soft interior.

An $11 plate of lemon ricotta pancakes topped with whipped cream and almond slivers hit the spot with fluffy texture and fresh lemon tang, subtly enhanced by the cheese. Just the right measure of sweetness rendered the maple syrup superfluous, and the overall effect of this stand by was that it held enough heft to satisfying without making one feel weighed down.

While Laudisio is best known for its Italian-influenced lunches and dinners, it certainly satisfies with its solidly constructed brunch menu, which is only offered on the weekends. My needs on the morning of my visit were more specific than usual, and the serene feel, simple but well-executed preparations, and detail-oriented but unobtrusive service made Laudisio a recuperative experience.

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