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April 2024 - The Cut: M'Tucci's 25

Cold Smoked Bone-In Pork Loin
Cold Smoked Bone-In Pork Loin

New Mexico native Jeff Spiegel and his wife, Katie Gardner, opened and ran nearly a dozen restaurants in New York before leaving the industry in 2006. The family of M'tucci's restaurants began in 2013 with the debut of M'tucci's Italian at Coors and Montano, one of my favorite local restaurants. Another three followed the original restaurant's success. Spiegel passed away earlier this year after battling leukemia for several years. The legacy he created appears to be holding strong despite his absence by way of the community he gathered and inspired.

M'tucci's 25 is the last I've tried after having great experiences at the other three sites. 

The location is comfortable and welcoming, just off I-25 on the west frontage road south of Jefferson. My group of three met for a casual work talk and a convivial meal. The staff was friendly and professional, never hovering but not more than a few moments away when needed. 

We skipped appetizers, knowing that the entree portions would be generous. One colleague ordered a Sauvignon Blanc that he declared acceptable. I was looking for a Willamette Valley, Oregon Pinot Noir to pair with my dinner, but the only one available was a half bottle that would have been too much for me to drink alone before driving. The server recommended a glass of Elouan Pinot Noir, inexplicably described as an "Oregon Coastal." It fell short in flavor and value at $11 a glass. It didn't live up to any part of its name - thin, bitter, and lacking the characteristics that make Oregon Pinot Noirs my go-to for most situations. 

Tuscan Cassoulet
Tuscan Cassoulet

We perused the menu while snacking warm bread, then ordered the Tuscan Cassoulet, Capocollo Carbonara, and the Cold Smoked Bone-In Pork Loin. The Cassoulet - is served over garlic mashed potatoes, and the white beans are simmered to creamy perfection with Pecorino and topped with smoked garlic sausage. It was the absolute star of the evening, a lovely Tuscan version of the traditional French dish. French culinary purists would likely find fault with the lack of duck fat, the choice of beans, or the lack of browned bread crumbs, but purists have been arguing over Cassoulet for centuries anyway. Do not get involved with purist troll fights about traditional dishes on the internet. You have been warned. 

The Carbonara description did not include eggs, so I silently debated like a culinary purist about whether it was a real Carbonara or more of an Alfredo or a cream and cheese sauce.

I'd like to think I was doing it ironically. 

Regardless, the sauce was silky smooth, and the Capocollo (smoked, cured pork shoulder) and Prosciutto lent the dish a wonderful savoriness with no overwhelming saltiness. Peas and red onion balanced the dish nicely in flavor and color. 

Capocollo Carbonara
Capocollo Carbonara

The pork chop (a double cut of surprising thickness and heft) from Sackett Farms in Iowa, in the heart of pork country, had a wonderful smokiness and was beautifully seared on the grill. The portion I was able to finish was cooked through but still had a juicy tenderness. Along with smoked cauliflower, roasted corn, and spinach, the pork was a wonderful centerpiece plated over the smoked tomato mostarda (a sweet and slightly spicy condiment of fruit and mustard). The kitchen was kind enough to omit the red peppers to accommodate my digestion. It was a winner as far as taste and presentation. The downside was two-fold, however. There were several tiny bone chips from the butchering, as well as a disappointing unrendered fat pocket along the rib bones that I found later since I honestly could not eat the whole entree in one sitting but could not imagine leaving the remainder.

Those quibbles aside, the food was delicious, beautifully presented, professionally served, and well worth the price. Next time, I'll spring for the half bottle of Willamette Pinot and share it or get a designated driver. The entire tab for entrees and drinks (before tip and tax) was well under $100 and fed three large, hungry food enthusiasts with leftovers for later. M'tucci's 25 goes on the list of restaurants to revisit and share with others, along with all three sites in M'tucci's brand.


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