TraMonti’s niche | VailDaily.com

TraMonti’s niche

Wren Wertin

Executive Chef of TraMonti, Curtis Cooper, left, and owner Jerry Weiss differ in their love of dinner beverages.

Located in The Charter at Beaver Creek, traMonti gives the feeling of being off the beaten track, despite its easy access.

“TraMonti is everything I’ve always wanted in a restaurant,” said Jerry Weiss, who owns it with his wife, Susan. “What we do here has consistent quality, and it’s a fun atmosphere, not stuffy. And I certainly couldn’t have a better office view.”

He’s right about that. Large windows framed in burnished wood overlooks Beaver Creek Mountain, full of green in the summer and white in the winter. The dining area is divided into smaller spaces, lending intimacy to the dining experience. While dining, my husband and I witnessed a thunderstorm out the window, and later a cloud swallowed bits and pieces of the mountain. It seemed mystic.

The varied menu, and the comprehensive wine list, are easily navigated – especially if you’re open to recommendations. The traMonti staff is well versed in the intricacies of each dish, and doesn’t seem to mind sharing candid opinions.

Executive Chef Curtis Cooper has an obvious penchant for playing with textures, as evidenced by the pea shoot and and ricotta gnocchi ($12) on the appetizer list. The creamy gnocchi is offset by the champagne tomatoes (small bursts of sweet and tart) and toasted pine nuts. Generous pieces of crab add a decadent twist, and the whole ensemble is served in a slightly sweet broth that borrows its flavor from crab, tomatoes and garlic.

Weiss paired it with a Botromagno Gravina ($8/glass), a fruity, herbaceous wine that offered a wonderful counterpoint to the gnocchi’s subtle richness. Weiss changes the wine menu a couple times a week, as he rotates through his ample stock. A level-two sommelier, he is genuinely excited by creating the perfect pairing. His attention to detail – and his willingness to try 100 wines a week, searching for the next great bottle – has earned traMonti a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the past seven years.

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One of his personal favorites is the pepper, sesame and fennel-crusted tuna ($11), seared rare atop a salad of baby greens and radish sprouts. A spicy vinaigrette with an onion-y kick, crowned by wasabi caviar, takes it to an exciting level. Fried slivers of wonton wrappers gave crunch to the occasional bite.

“We try to support small growers, artisan growers,” he said. “That’s important because they’re trying to create quality in their products.”

As the oldest restaurant in Beaver Creek, traMonti has had a chance to refine some absolutely classic culinary combinations. If certain menu items disappeared, there would be a massive uprising. The pear salad ($9) is one such dish, with its combination of walnuts, beets, gorgonzola and butter lettuce. The lobster ravioli ($26) is another, made in-house with sun-dried tomatoes, basil and marscapone, served in a small pool of saffron cream.

For those in the mood to get downright naughty, the duck cannelloni ($22) has a deep rosemary-infused mushroom flavor that permeates the filling of oozing ricotta, grilled duck and spinach. A glass of Capannacce Poggio Crocino, a Super Tuscan, added a dark cherry flavor. My husband’s favorite was the free range veal scaloppine ($30), pan seared, paired with unbelievable fontina polenta.

Even those stuffed to the gills, as we were, should make room for dessert. The homemade sorbets and gelatos strike just the right balance – try the coffee. The vanilla bean creme brulee is as classic as it gets, and the flourless chocolate tort with roasted banana gelato, caramel sauce and sugared bananas is excellent.

The menu is a collaborative effort between Weiss, Cooper and Sous Chef Kevin Presser.

“There’s no job in a restaurant I haven’t done – dishwasher, busboy, bartender, chef,” said Weiss. “My favorite job is as owner, which means I do all those things, even valet cars. There’s nothing an owner wouldn’t do to better a restaurant.”