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Let's help Rebecca. Italian in Asheville, NC?

r
RebDrag May 9, 2007 04:58 PM

My birthday's coming up and I would like to have a nice Italian dinner in Asheville, North Carolina. I live in Hendersonville. Does anybody have feedback on Podesto, Pastabilities, Amici Trattoria, or Fiore's Cottonwood Ristorante Toscana? Also any other good Italian restaurants.

  1. l
    leahinsc May 9, 2007 05:36 PM

    Modesto (not Podesto) is in Grove Arcade. Have only been there once myself and reviews have been mixed but seem to be improving.
    Pastabilities - W. Asheville - no idea - have never been and have never heard anyone talk about it.
    Amici Trattoria - S. Asheville - have been once - ok - pricier than it needs to be
    Fiore's - downtown - uneven - have been once - a couple of things good and others awful
    Caterina - close to downtown - seems to depend on the night - again, uneven
    Sorrento's - E. Asheville - inexpensive - wacky - there was a recent review
    Vincenzo's - downtown - again, uneven, saw a review recently that was distinctly unfavorable.

    1 Reply
    1. re: leahinsc
      m
      mark May 10, 2007 05:46 AM

      not impressed w/ modesto. some very good things (best mussels i've ever had), but decidedly uneven execution on other dishes (a sweet, saltless puttenesca; completely unseasoned chicken on a pizza, which featured a rather lackluster crust for that matter). it's a 2nd tier restaurant for me; i won't refuse to go if someone suggests it & there's no wait, but i won't go of my own volition.

      pastabilities is american italian food, and not very good. i'll put it this way, i'm a huge advocate of supporting local businesses, especially those i can walk/bike to. pastabilities is 2 blocks from my house, and i never ever go there.

      haven't tried fiore's. from what i've heard, it's a nice space. if ambience is equally important as food, it might be an option.

      i've tried caterina twice. first time was good, next was so-so. in-house sausages are generally good.

      haven't been to sorrento's in some time. my experience there is that of a hole in the wall with decent food and a fun, old-country charm/vibe. recent rumblings indicate it may have slipped, but i can't confirm. antipasti platter has always been hit-or-miss; sometimes good stuff, sometimes they obviously popped the top on a couple of cans. the entrees were usually good.

      my view of vincenzos is that it's been in a long, slow decline. used to be very good back in the early-mid '90s. most recent visit was a year or so ago, and food was ok, but nothing special. more to the point, for whatever reason, vincenzo's staff always used to try to give me crappy tables, even when the place wasn't busy. it's also the only place in town i've had the bottled water scam run on me (i refused to pay).

      haven't tried amici yet, but it seems to get generally decent/good reviews, and there seem to be a lot of coupons around that might help address leah's point re the cost. i'm planning on trying them soon.

    2. danna May 10, 2007 05:16 AM

      I haven't been everywhere you mention, but from some of the reviews I've read, I'm not going to try some of them either. With the exception of Modesto, I haven't had a good experience w/ Italian in Asheville since Tomato stopped being Italian. Modesto can be very good...can be a little uneven though, and really doesn't have that traditional Italian vibe. If you are a big fan of Hector, you will like it as I do, if not, I can't say for sure. They DO have a fair number of Italian wines and nice glasses.

      Here's my suggestiong. Drive up to Highlands and go to Paoletti's . It's not THAT far from H'ville. Just get on 64 and hit cruise! Paoletti's is not NY quality by any means, but it is better than any other Italian I've had in the Carolinas except for Al di La in Charleston.

      3 Replies
      1. re: danna
        m
        mark May 10, 2007 05:48 AM

        danna, is paolettis in a little strip mall off 64 on the left just before you enter highlands proper? if so, i went there years ago, and it was pretty good.

        1. re: mark
          danna May 10, 2007 06:00 AM

          No, it's on the main "drag"- the street where there's lots of parking in the middle of the street? I don't know the name. It's fairly fancy inside, nice ambiance and medium-high priced for the food, decidedly high priced wine...but it's one of those "wine spectator award" deals, so I guess that's why they think they can ream you on the wine. I will say, though, they make good choices...probably the best wine by the glass I ever had I got there (for $14 ), a Mondavi Oakville Cab.

          1. re: danna
            m
            mark May 10, 2007 06:26 AM

            thanks, i'll have to try it out.

      2. l
        leahinsc May 10, 2007 07:33 AM

        As you can see below, it seems there aren't a lot of restaurants in Asheville that have mastered good Italian food. This is surprising since if you travel in Italy you know that the ingredients are pretty basic and fresh and the preparation is not all that complicated. I think what the problem is here is that they try and make it some sort of hybrid dish with different ingredients/sauces/preparation, instead of sticking with good quality ingredients prepared simply and honestly.

        1. n
          NANCY May 10, 2007 02:45 PM

          Rebecca,
          Has La Riserva on Main Street in Hendersonville opened yet? I believe the owner/chef is David Sparacino and his previous restaurant behind Touchstone/Black Bear Coffee was pretty good.

          Here's the link - http://www.lariservaristorante.com/ht...

          5 Replies
          1. re: NANCY
            danna May 11, 2007 06:13 AM

            BTW, the pasta at West First is so good it could lure you away from the pizza.

            1. re: danna
              n
              NANCY May 11, 2007 06:38 AM

              On a Tuesday nite at 8:30 we had to wait 20 minutes for a table ~ in H'ville. Amazing! Pizzas and salads were great, altho they had run out of their sausage. Wine list needs some work, or maybe I was jaded having just come from the FRP benefit wine tasting at the Fresh Market.

              Everyplace else on Main Street was closed or dead. This place will be impossible to get into during the summer.

              1. re: NANCY
                danna May 11, 2007 07:54 AM

                Yeah. We waited an hour at 5:45 a couple of months ago.

                Yes, Jeff C. that pappardelle was the pasta I had, loved it. Love the goat cheese salad as well, although I AM pretty easy to please if something has goat cheese on it. The Flat Rock boys are responsible for 3/4 of all the weight I would like to loose, between the scones, the bread, and the pizzas.

                1. re: danna
                  Jeff C. May 11, 2007 09:31 AM

                  I feel your pain, Danna. They've ruined me, too. Have had to hit the trails at the Sandburg place with extra vigor in recent weeks...

                  So much for my low carb diet!

              2. re: danna
                Jeff C. May 11, 2007 06:48 AM

                The papparadelle at West First is to die for. And the salads are lovely, too.

            2. c
              CPKRUSEAE May 14, 2007 02:29 PM

              Fiore's is excellent. I reccomend the mussels and any lamb dish. Anthony also makes an amazing chicken parm but it's not on the menu. Just ask and he'll make it.
              There is new place on hendersonville Road called Frankie Bones. It is the best Italian I've had outside of New York or any of Jerry Cioles restaurants.

              1. c
                catsailor May 16, 2007 04:12 PM

                How about Carrabas in Arden. Not bad for a chain, but good italian in Asheville is hard to come by. Amici's is pricey, the service is not at a par for what you're paying for (high school and college kids) and I've had some great entrees and some just ok ones. Never was impressed with Vincenzos or Cucina Trattoria either.

                1. e
                  Eojr Jan 26, 2008 10:40 AM

                  Eddie Spaghetti in south asheville is the best. great value. Chef is from Sicily.Everything is homemade.

                  1. j
                    jatkin02 Jan 30, 2008 12:41 PM

                    Caterina is generally very good, although I think they were consistently better at their old location on Pack Square. They still make much of their core ingredients on-site, including mozarella, and they cure their own meats.

                    If it were up to me and I were hunting Asheville Italian, that's where I would go.

                    Unless I were feeling funky and just didn't care what happened, in which case I would think about Sorrentos on South Tunnel Rd. Serviceable in every way, and very welcoming...even familial. The last time we were there they got robbed, but kept service running, albeit with quaking hands. The food doesn't make you cry, exactly, but it's a good night out.

                    James

                    1. l
                      leahinsc Sep 23, 2008 05:21 PM

                      Cucina 24 has Sugo's beat in my book.

                      1. m
                        McChow Sep 23, 2008 07:37 PM

                        Cucina 24 is by far the best Italian I've had in Asheville.

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