Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vincenzo's Ristorante & Bistro, Asheville, NC

Vincenzo's, with its retro neon signs, downstairs piano bar and "old school" elegance has a 1960's Supper Club feel that almost had me glancing around for a Rat Pack sighting...and I mean that in a good way (this is no Olive Garden). The menu offers an extensive selection of Northern Italian classics peppered with a few Continental standards, and the waitstaff is mature and professional. The items UD and I ordered were pretty solid and service was was a positive experience (especially considering the fact that although we like it, Italian cuisine is not at the top of either of our fave lists and therefore does not usually elicit the highest level of praise on my blog regardless of how good it is). Consider that last part a disclaimer.

We were presented with some nice, warm bread (not your typical Italian bread, but almost like an egg bread) with cheesy, herb-infused olive oil right off the bat.

The starter I selected, Ostriche Florentine ($10.95), was an Italian twist on Oysters Rockefeller that didn't rock my tastebuds like I was expecting them to. The oysters were heavily coated in a crispy panko breadcrumb coating, covered with spinach and bacon, and drizzled ("in the Florentine" manner) with Locatelli b├ęchamel. While I appreciated the traditional approach, I found the b├ęchamel somewhat incongruous and longed for the lemony tang of hollandaise. The spousal unit echoed a similar sentiment. Oh, but check out the little paper doilies that a couple of dishes were presented on...cutely classic!

The $9.95 Tenderloin Carpaccio excited me a bit more. The thinly-shaved beef tasted super-fresh and I also appreciated the herbaceous olive oil it was drizzled with. Extra credit points were bestowed for the lovely marinated artichoke hearts adorning this beautiful plate and the liberal garnish of capers.

Vincenzo's pasta dishes are all offered in both full and "piccolo" sizes...and the smaller portions (most of which are in the $10 range) were quite generous. I had the petite portion of Cannelloni di Vincenzo al Forno (traditional cannelloni stuffed with veal, beef and spinach and finished with a Pomodoro sauce, topped with Provolone and baked), which was a fine rendition and very enjoyable (if not mind-blowing). The tomato sauce was zesty and fresh-tasting and there was no skimping on the savory ground veal and melted cheese. I didn't have room for dessert after polishing this off (maybe I should deduct points for that :p).

My better half's Gnocchi al Emelia-Romagna (classic potato dumplings tossed with proscuitto ham and scallions in a Gorgonzola cream) was perfectly executed and decadently rich. The dumplings (moist on the outside; light and fluffy on the inside) couldn't have been any better. Throw proscuitto, cream and gorgonzola into the mix and you have a good two weeks of Atkins dieting in your immediate future if you hope to every shoehorn yourself into your pants again...but it'll be SO worth it!

Final word: We liked it. The tab was right at $80, which included two glasses of wine apiece. I would not hesitate to recommend Vincenzo's to anyone who enjoys classic Italian cuisine.

Vincenzo's on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Those pasta dishes look incredible! Though, I'm a big Italian food lover. I think good quality, homemade pizza is my biggest downfall...pasta is a close second.