Lots of parking in this area of town, which is nice. When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was the overhead art and name of the restaurant. The inside has a nice high ceiling and open dining space, but with small tables nestled around for a cozy environment. I dig the feel.
The menu is quite large. I've attached the photos here, and you can click on them to see them larger. But they have cheese boards, flatbreads, pasta, beef dishes, seafood dishes, chicken dishes and sandwiches. I'm pretty sure they probably have something for everyone.
First we started off with an appetizer of meatball sliders. Three homemade meatballs smother in sauce and served on artisan bread and ricotta cheese. I feel like you can tell a lot about a restaurant by their meatballs.
And these were good. Well-seasoned and a tasty combination of spices. Could be ground a little finer. The bread was a bit too thick/not toasted enough and was just too big for the small slider. But good.
A salad was my next course, and I was pleasantly surprised. No shredded iceberg with a tomato here. Nice fresh spring greens with a few slivers of onion, some kalamata olives and tomato. Dressing was on the side. I'm sure they have labels on the top to differentiate, but taking those off would make it seem less take-out-y. But happy with the quality of this salad. Simple - it is a house salad after all - but with good ingredients. Yes.
For my entree, I couldn't pass up the pasta section. One of their house specialties was the rigatoni alla vodka, which s a house specialty from Chef Allesandro of Montecatini. It has Italian bacon, plum tomatoes, onions sautéed in a vodka marinara cream sauce with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. You can get a large for $15 or a medium for $11.
It was good. Nice creamy tomato flavor. The sauce was a little thick - and I would like it to have been a little bit more sauce; a little pool at the bottom to sop up some extra sauce with my rigatoni would've been perfect. But solid flavors, fresh flavors.
Pair that with a basket of warm, homemade bread and some olive oil and spices, and the meal was really, really good.
I think a few different men came over to us to ask how everything was. One in particular was especially helpful and gave Vicki an extra dose of parmesan to go atop her spaghetti carbonara after she said she wasn't sure how it was supposed to taste. The man - I'm guessing one of the owners - said their version is a more traditional type, whereas other places treat a carbonara as a thick, creamy - almost alfredo - sauce. But theirs was lighter. The extra parmesan on top really made her dish great.
The chef would also come out occasionally and asked how our meal was. That was special. And you could tell he was working his ass off. That really made me like the place. He really cared how people were liking his food. That was awesome.
Our server was new and young, so you could tell she was a little nervous. But she did well. And honestly, this was probably the smoothest opening day I've been to. I was stunned how nice it was, how good the food was and how well the servers were trained.
For dessert, I went for the cannoli. Homemade every day! The cannoli was a chocolate flavor - like a chocolate mousse - and the outside was actually soft. Like a waffle cone soft. I don't think it was bad, just different. Very rich.
Seems as though a friend I follow on Twitter, Devin Sears, her family and the chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party own this place.
For the first day, they blew it out of the park. Absolutely outstanding. As they gain some experience under their belt and work out the kinks (though there are very few), I think it will only get even better. Flavors are on point, and with a few small touches, I think it could be one of the best.