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).
We went yesterday for the Halloween party and had a great time. The food and service were outstanding. The patio was very nice yesterday as well. Highly recommended.
I took my sweetie here for our wedding anniversary on Tuesday. We were very pleased. I had the veal special with pasta; she had the chicken piccatta. Her only complaint was that it was a tad heavy on the capers. We will definitely return.
Wow, its unfortunate that dsharlee had such a bad experience at Capriccio's- it's one of my favorite spots. My husband and I typically get the Caesar Salad and the Eggplant Parmesan entree and split it- with the plentiful bread and olive oil we don't go hungry. He gets a beer (which comes in a small bucket of ice) and I get a glass of wine. One of the things that we love about it is that the wait staff is encouraged not to turn the tables quickly- so, if you want your check, ask for it. We love not feeling rushed. The casual atmosphere and seeing the owner at every visit makes this a very special place.
Not much to say about this restaurant, except maybe that the server tried very hard to improve our visit. It was HOT, and a table lamp put out such heat that the temperature increased by at least 10 degrees. The food was mediocre. What they call ciopinno is just pasta with bland tomato sauce, with a few pieces of seafood thrown in. No broth at all. We won't be going back.
Have been several times over this past summer and always leave in a joyous mood. The wine list is fantastic as is the wait staff's knowledge of the wines, the alluring Italian ambiance is always apparent whether inside or in the courtyard, and the food is terrific, adding up to a lovely experience that myself and numerous friends of mine thoroughly enjoy. Also, the Mushroom ravioli is out of this world.
Bella Napoli is a classic, family owned Italian-American restaurant. For me it feels like home.
As an Italian-American myself, I love going to Bella Napoli, not just for the food, but for the experience I get interacting with the staff and other patrons. It feels like home. Chef Gary treats everyone like they are his kin. The wait staff is just a friendly, warm and welcoming, especially our favorite waiter, Chuck. Ask for him next time you are in and you will not be disappointed.
But lets talk about the food. It is absolute heaven. Everything is fresh made everyday from scratch, even down to the ladyfingers they use in the Tiramisu. Chef Gary invited my boyfriend and me back to the kitchen our first visit to take a look at the operation. I have seen living proof of the love and hard work that goes into this restaurant and I am impressed and thankful that this place is in my own neighborhood.
Their specials never disappoint, my favorite so far being a seafood manicotti. They also make amazing Chicken Marsala. Whatever brand of Marsala they are using in this dish is perfecto!
Ignore any negative comments about this place. They are not true!
it's been awhile since i reviewed this place but was so impressed with today's lunch that i figured i would give them another great review. I went alone today and had a very nice experience. ordered the prosciutto sandwich with mozzarella, basil and tomato. The prosciutto was sliced nice and thin and melted in your mouth, the mozzarella was so soft and fresh, and the tomatoes delicious. the sub roll was slightly toasted and warm, giving the bread a slight crunch. All drizzled with EVOO. Just a great lunch. Thanks again!
Tucked away in a shopping center near Sonic on Folly Road one would not expect to find such and elegant restaurant. Although the restaurant is very small and the decor leaves something to be desired the lighting and white table cloths create a wonderful atmosphere. Guests are always dressed nicely and the staff is knowledgeable and has a lot of pride in the restaurant. I have always been over- the- top impressed with the quality and creativity of their beautifully prepared dishes. Try the artichoke hearts wrapped in prosciutto (stuffed with goat cheese). Delicious! The outdoor patio is wonderful too.
I had the eggplant parm for lunch, and it was absolutely delicious! Came with a very nice salad with the house vinegarette. I was stuffed, and the price was a mere $9.00. Mondo's is a hidden gem on James Island on the corner of Folly and Camp Roads.
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