I read about the opening of this restaurant the other day. We have a good friend coming to visit this week and since it's an Italian restaurant and she loves Italian food, off we went.
Like Leaf, a restaurant that opened a few weeks ago, it has no social media presence. No facebook, twitter, webpage... you name it, nothing. AND, unlike Leaf it has no signage. Unless we knew that it was at 420 King Street we would have never found it. You would think a menu would be in the window for passersby to see and to draw attention to it. Nah, I guess their thoughts are, "If you build it they will come."
It is a very narrow, shot gun space with tables and high tops as you enter followed by a long bar. The tables are dark wood and the high tops were made by the owner (we overheard this). The walls have dark framed mirrors and they are waiting for framed prints for the walls to be delivered, so the walls are bare. The ceiling looks more like a floor than a ceiling created with dark salvaged wood from former homes in Charleston. The kitchen and more seating are in the back. Seating in the back is a small stucco walled room with dark beams. I really thought I was going to bump into a salad bar like I would have at Steak and Ale.
We had not heard much about the restaurant. One post stated that the ticket times were very long on the night that they were there and another liked his salad, but that's about it. We also heard that there is not a hostess to seat you and that it was somewhat confusing, which was true. It wasn't very busy and we were seated rather quickly.
We sat near the bar at a high top that was rocking. The server explained that the tables rocked because "they moved them around so much." Although she said she would get something to fix it, she didn't. Thank goodness I am a high maintenance coffee drinker and keep Sweet 'N Low in my purse. That did the trick. Can't someone pay attention to the little things?
The menu is moderate in size, but the restaurant was so dark we had to use the light from both our cell phone and the votive candle to read it. They offer 3 soups, 4 brushcettas, 3 appetizers, 6 pasta selections, 6 salad/veggies and duck confit, Cornish hen and a fish of the day. House made desserts are also available. So if you can't find their menu on line (which we couldn't), there it is.
We started with a cocktail, bottle of sparking water and an order of the artichoke brushcetta. Our beverages were served rather quickly, but with my beverage, served in a martini glass, they "Damn near missed it," as my dad would say when something was rather skimpy. My glass was literally half full.
The artichoke brushcetta was served in a pool of olive oil. With the lack of light it was hard to see if there was any pecorino romano cheese, as advertised and the garlic was overpowering. The bread was so heavily toasted it was like we were eating a large, oily crouton. I am certain that we made some noise chomping on it, but there was no way around it.
We decided to share two pasta dishes for dinner. Their pastas are made in house and were appealing. While we were waiting for our dinners to arrive we started to watch what appeared to be the owner tour the restaurant. He stopped at the table next to us who appeared to be friends of his. He poured wine, chit chatted and moved on. He then went to the table in the front of the restaurant, the lone table by the window - chit chatted and moved on. Two tables down from us and the table next to us had the same personalized visit. Ours was the only table that he did not stop at. I was beginning to get a complex.
Before we knew it our dinner was served. One thing that I can say is that our service was good and the food was served very quickly.
We ordered the Lobster Ravioli Served on Spicy Lobster and Wild Fennel Tomato Sauce "Sardinian Style". (We took a picture of the menu, so this is the exact menu copy.) We additionally ordered the Tagliatelle Served with Wild Boar Ragout Sauce. At $18.00 and $15.00 these were the most expensive items on the menu. The menu is very moderately priced.
Stem billowed from the plates as they were sat down in front of us. I thought, "Finally, very hot food." But alas, my dreams were dashed. The sauces were very hot and my lobster sauce also had a nice kick to it. The Boar Sauce had a nice flavor but the little chunks of boar within the sauce were so incredibly tough it was hard to chew them. Most disappointing was that the pastas were served tepid at best. They must have been platted ahead of time? Even the hot sauces didn't help. The Lobster Ravioli was also had somewhat of a fishy taste, so I wouldn't recommend it.
After all the time they waited to get this off the ground, it still needs some work. Can someone turn up the lights? Food pics can be found at http://diningaroundcharleston.com
Fantastic atmoshere ~ great wine ~ great service. (gonna try the cuisine after Easter)!
This place is amazing! Always a favorite with family and friends from out of town. Live Jazz, fantstic food and all around great experience consistly! The service is great and the food is awesome at a reasonable price. Love Mercato!!!!!!!!!
Not bad not great but a very nice looking place. The service was just ok . Cant say we would run back.
Terrible food, terrible service, awful experience........... This was such an unfortunate experience. This place used to have great food. What happened????
I just left this place and have to agree with the other reviews.
Service was SLOW. The party next to us left after 30 minutes and only an appetizer.
Food was average and appeared to have been left on the counter until it was lukewarm.
Avoid this place. Pizza Hut would be just as good and a lot faster.
My Husband and I just finished having dinner at this establishment. The first sign that our meal was doomed to be a meal from "KITCHEN NIGHTMARES" was when our side salads came out, they consisted of lettuce a tomato and a small cup of raspberry vinegarette dressing far from "authentic Italian."
Our salads were $5 a piece for what lettuce and tomato? The bread tasted as if it was microwaved. After much disapointment we recieved our meals, my husband ordered Lasagna that had absolutely no flavor. My husband offered me a small bit and I can honestly say I've had better microwaved meals. The worst part of the dinner was my meal, I ordered a chicken Florentine dish that tasted like nothing special.. It consisted of a boiled chicken breast floating around in what tasted like campbells chicken soup and noodles with microwaved spinach. To top off the chicken breast was a microwaved slice of provolone cheese. The dish I ordered was nothing special $17 FOR WHAT? The food that we ordered tasted like something that we could have made at home, but never would. We also chose to use a coupon that we had that clearly stated "Buy one Dinner of equal or great value and recieve a second dinner of equal or Greater value for free. When Our waitress saw our coupon she said "Im sorry we cannot honor these because the coupon book that printed these for us made a typo sorry. Ok soo the typo is the customer's fault?? This was our first and last time eating at Bella Napoli. The worst part was when I recieved the bill I honestly wanted to vomit my tastless meal back up. $57.00 I WAS DISGUSTED to say the least, We ordered 3 teas, 2 meals, 2 side salads and 1 kids meal and none of it was worth $57.00. My husband and I eat out alot because we love trying new places and Charleston certantly has alot of wonderful, delicious restaurants in the area however Bella Napoli is not one of them. This meal was a total waste of money. OVER PRICED MICROWAVED DINNERS, BUYER BEWARE!!!!!
I must admit that I had some trepidation about having dinner at the Italian restaurant, Sette on Coleman Boulevard. I had eaten at The Boulevard Diner, also owned by “Sal”. Although the food was OK the food handling was awful, and having Food Safety and Quality Assurance as a responsibility of mine at my last position, it was very concerning to me.
But, many people in our neighborhood spoke so highly of Sette that we had to give it a try. Plus an entrepreneur (Bradford) and two of his colleagues left Sette after many years to open Graze in the Whole Foods Plaza, which is a huge success. We thought that his legacy may have lived on.
Make no bones about it; Sette is a former Pizza Hut. Other than putting a chandelier in the center of the room, it’s still a Pizza Hut. Not that it’s a bad thing, but the décor is somewhat cold.
We were quickly seated at a two top that was part of a long, hard, wooden, pew-like setting. Although there was a cushion, all I could think of was the misery when I had been stranded at the 30th Street Train Station in Philadelphia – so uncomfortable.
Once seated a 2’ x 3’ blackboard was propped up next to us on a chair displaying the 6 specials. An awkward way to do this, but it seemed to work. Our server, Alexa, never spoke of the specials but was efficient nonetheless. We were quickly served a light olive oil and in-house baked bread that was really very good. I thought that we were off to a wonderful start.
As we perused the menu we decided to order an entrée and to split a Caesar salad. I am a big fan of veal dishes and find that Italian restaurants usually prepare them very well. Alexa approached the table to take our order. We ordered the Caesar salad and then I began to inquire about the veal dishes. She immediately told us that she would not recommend the veal and that “of all the dishes they serve, veal gets the most complaints.” “It’s just not good,” she continued. “It’s tough and I would not order it.”
I applauded her candor. But thought if this is how the staff is feeling, why isn’t something done to change this?
My husband landed on the Pine Nut encrusted chicken (one of Alexa’s favorites), and I chose the Seafood Fettuccini. We waited a brief time before our salads were served and watched as the small restaurant began to fill up.
Our salad had been split for us on to two small plates, which was nice. We asked if the restaurant had anchovies, they did not. However, we were assured that the dressing had anchovies in it and was very tasty.
My first bite of the salad was disappointing as it was very bland. And, although the lighting was dim we began to notice that most of the lettuce was brown, and that most of it wasn’t the leaves but rather the “core” of the lettuce. We gave the salads back to Alexa.
If you think about it, a lot has to happen before our salads hit our table. First, someone had to either get the portion of Romaine, or portion the Romaine. Then they had to toss the Romaine in dressing, split the portion on the two dishes and add croutons and freshly grated cheese. Since the kitchen was well lit I found it very hard to believe that the quality of the Romaine went unnoticed. Is this what they always serve it? Bleech.
Our entrees were a mixed bag. My Seafood Fettuccini was hot, spicy and flavorful. No complaints on my end. But the Pine Nut Encrusted Chicken was a different story. If you’ve been reading along you know that I’m usually the one that has food envy when we go out. Without fail I always seem to pick the wrong thing off the menu. Tonight I definitely got the better meal for a change.
The “Balsamic reduction” was hardly reduced. The dish looked like two large chicken breasts sitting in an oil change. And unfortunately, its flavor also faltered. There was not a pine nut to be seen. The “crust” of the chicken was gummy and the procciuto was rubbery. The mashed potatoes and asparagus (all three stalks) were so infused with balsamic vinegar that they, and the entire dish, was almost inedible.
Again, someone on the expediter’s station saw this dish that looked that bad and decided to serve it to us.
It answered my question as to whether I would ever dine at Sette or “Sal’s” 6 other restaurants again, and the answer is no. We stopped at Harris Teeter on the way home so my husband could get something to eat. And after my “bench detail” at the table I felt like I was in need of a chiropractor. This is a restaurant to skip.
My wife and I have been weekly or monthly regulars at Bacco for the last year. Our second most visited resaurant is Charleston Grill...that speaks volumes about Bacco!
Bacco has steadily been my favorite restaurant in Charleston (actually, period) for the past few years since it opened. It is very tasty, very inexpensive, and very cozy.
If you're reading this thinking "huh, I should try this place" then please consider this: go during the week. The word has gotten out and the restaurant is starting to fill up on weekends. I like eating here at 7 pm on a Saturday, so don't steal my table. Go on Tuesday or Wednesday, when chef/owner Michael offers his 7 course tasting menu for a mere $20. This includes 3 antipasti (appetizers), 3 primi (pasta), and a choice of dessert. The full menu is also available. Or go on Thursday, for half price wine bottles.
The food is the star here. Have you ever eaten something, closed your eyes, and had a moment, an experience? Not just putting food in your mouth because it's a metabolic necessity of life, but an actual experience from food? I've had that at probably 3 restaurants in my life, and Bacco is not only on the list, it's a repeat performer. Let's talk about some of those foods/moments.
Chicken liver crostini: If you don't like to eat "gross" stuff, you can skip this and go on to the pasta. That leaves more for me. These are magical. I order extra plates of this when I see it on the menu. When I was in Paris, I ordered goose live foie gras pate at every occasion. These crostini aren't just the next best thing to a Parisian cafe, they're better.
Pappardelle: On my first trip to Bacco, I had never heard of pappardelle. Afterwards, I scouted every grocery store in Charleston to find it (I'll save you the trouble: Whole Foods and Harris Teeter). This is a wide fettucini-like pasta with tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella, as simple as it can get. It is also spectacular, a real example of the beauty of simplicity.
Ricotta cheese cake: I am not a dessert person, so just making it on this list is an accomplishment for the chef. This is unlike any other cheese cake you've had. It focuses on flavor and texture, not just cramming sugar and saturated fat into a wedge and calling it dessert. Also to note are the strawberries with balsamic reduction, again actual cuisine and a tasty way to end the meal.
Butternut squash soup: This is my wife's favorite dish. I normally think of soup as a course you get out of the way so you can get to the actual food. Much like salad. I make exceptions for only two: this and she crab soup. And wedge salads with bacon, but that's a different story.
Duck: I normally don't order, or particularly enjoy, duck. However, Michael makes the best duck leg, which my wife thankfully ordered, let me try, and I will now order next time I am there. I had similar tasting duck at a double Michelin starred restaurant, but Michael's is tastier, tenderer, and crispier.
There are many others, but considering the menu rotates seasonly, if not weekly, you're likely to have different choices each time you arrive.
In regards to the other aspects of the restaurant, as if the food isn't sufficient, the atmosphere is perfectly simple and comfortable, much like the food. The wait staff is perfect. I know most of them by name, because they are noteworthy.
Again, and I can't stress this enough, this restaurant is a must visit and my unequivocal favorite in town, but the 7 course chef's tasting menu on Tuesday and Wednesday is not only a steal of a deal, but a great way to experiment, diversify, and try some world class food you might otherwise not consider. If you go any other day, the regular menu is sure to please. Just don't take the last table, I want it.
We arrived and were seated and everything was nice. We ordered a cheese pizza for the kids and two entrees for ourselves.
The cheese pizza arrived first as per our request. The server carried it and a few plates on a tray. He grabbed a tray jack from the wall, setting the tray upon I, then he began to serve the children the cheese pizza. In horror, we watched as he lifted the first slice with his bare hand! Then used the other bare ungloved hand to separate the cheese that was stringing from the slice to the pan and place it on top of the slice. These were the same hands we had just seem touch numerous things in the dining room. We immediately asked to serve ourselves and disregarded the slice that he had touched. The pizza was room temperature but the children were hungry and they did not seem to mind. If the children had not been hungry we would have walked out then, but because everyone (including adults) was hungry we stayed. Unfortunately that ended up being a huge mistake.
Then the entrees came, one was fine. The other was supposed to be a fettucini alfredo with shrimp. We were served a dish with a very thin sauce that was not even able to coat the noodles. It was just pooled up in the bottom of the bowl with noodles floating on top of this unknown watery substance. The sauce had also begun to separate and some oil could be seen floating on top. Immediately our response was “I am sorry but I cannot eat this.” The server at The Red Pepper offered to remake it but we asked to see a menu instead. We ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara as a replacement. It also came out cold but at this point we didn’t want to make any more of a fuss. Mistakes do happen. We asked for boxes and the check a few moments later.
. The items on the bill were the cheese pizza, the first entrée that came out correctly, the sangria, chianti, the fettuccini alfredo and the carbonara? We expected to pay for everything except for the fettuccini. We did not eat any of it and refused it at once. Of course we assumed that the server had just forgotten to take it off the bill. We quietly reminded him that we had sent the fettuccini back. He told us that the owner said we had to pay for it because there was nothing wrong with it.
I am not kidding! I know that this sounds absolutely absurd. I swear to you it happened! What occurs next gets even worse! We explained to the server that we did not eat the fettuccini, it was sent back to the kitchen as soon as we saw it. So we should not have to pay for something that we did not have. There server disagreed, he insisted that we pay for the food that we could not eat because the owner said he thinks it’s good. It didn’t matter that we thought it was a poor quality. We asked for the owner several times. A manger finally came to our table. She walked up to us and didn’t say a word. We explained why we thought we should not be obligated pay for the fettuccini that we did not eat. She made a rude comment about our children being messy. Then she snatched the check off the table and stormed away. As she hurried away she yelled, in a loud voice in front of the entire dining room “They Stiffed you!”. She was talking to our server who was standing against the wall on the other side of the dining room. It was a mortifying experience. I was in tears. I felt humiliated and about the size of a snow pea. We had not even paid the check yet. Why would she yell that out in front of people? It was by far the most publicly humiliating experience of my life.
We paid out bill, left our To-Go boxes on the table, and the standard 20% tip and left.
I would not recommend The Red Pepper to anyone! When I got home I Googled and saw that just recently closed. This one should be following soon.
Lucca is my favorite restaurant in all of Charleston, and in my top three nationwide. I've eaten there many times over the past two years and have never been less than ecstatic about the food.
This might be the worst food in CHARLESTON------------ Any self respecting diner would never go twice!
1 star is kind!
I am a huge fan of Mondos! I love the artichoke hearts appetizer that is wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with goat cheese! And for dinner I have had their Flamed Vodka Cream Sauce with shrimp, but now I just order from one of the chef's specials of the night! Everything is delicious and I am never disappointed!
Lovely atmosphere- great lighting even upon entry to the parking lot. The mussels were awesome, as was the local beet salad with farro. Ricotta gnocchi with boar ragu was an unexpectedly delicious entree. Desserts looked creative and delicious. Definitley worth the drive to John's Island.
Once we found this place, what a nice surprise. We called the restaurant and the employee gave us directions...when we arrived the dining room was empty, maybe because it was a little after 5 on a Wednesday. Our server was very nice, and knowledgeable of the menu(the first good sign). The homemade bread was to die for and the spiced oil was better then carrabbas, which I have always enjoyed. The server suggested a few appetizers to start and we decided on the sauteed mussels in a red wine sauce..yummy. The next surprise....the wonderful gentleman playing the piano, he starts at 6, but as more tables arrived he began to play, taking requests and playing flawless!! Our meals were tasty and our overall experience was delightful.
Well made Italian food, nice atmosphere/location. Really nice wine selection. I'd say it lived up to our expectations, which were fairly high.
We agreed that we've had better Italian, but this is a close second.
There is room for improvement... our server rushed us and seemed disinterested in describing the dishes, for example.
I ordered a special that they had that included vegetables and scallops--my favorite. The dish portion was huge (gave me three meals for the price of one), and quite delicious. However, I did have to wait for a while because the first dish I received wasn't the one I'd originally ordered. Honest mistake, and the manager made sure that I was fine with everything, so the service was great as well.
Fantastic! Simple, rustic and great food. Service was first class. Special attention to gnocchi with boar ragu; venison with cherry-stuffed gnocchi (Uau!) and short ribs with fontina-stuffed risotto cake (delicious sugo). As mentioned above, the chocolate pistachio custard is to die for. Also, we got a special deal: certain wine bottles were $19 (Sunday night; not sure if it were a Thanksgiving weekend special or just a Sunday dinner special).
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