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Cucina 24 - Asheville

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They opened on Thursday 04/29. We went last nite. Considering this was their 4th day of operation and they had a full house - it was damn near perfect.

The space - dark, modern, bar in front, floor plan wraps around the open kitchen (which has a wood fired oven). Very nice, including the ladies room.

The menu -
Antipasti - olives, favas, roasted peppers, asparagus frittata, arancini, artichoke ripieni, chicken liver crostini and many more. Choose 1 for $4, 3 for $11 or 5 for $18. Looks great for sharing.
Insalate & Zuppe - Spring vegetable minestrone, asparagus salad w/ fried egg, smoked tuna carpaccio, arugula salad. All $6 to $9
Pizza - very interesting combos in the $10 to $13 range. Looks like thin crust.
Primi - Orecchiette/fennel sausage/rapini, Linguini/clams/garlic, Ricotta Gnudi/asparagus/brown butter, Veal cheek ravioli/mushrooms/fava, Carbonara and a few more. All in the $13 to $16 range.
Secondi - Roasted lamb shoulder/polenta, Roasted bass/fennel brodo/peperonata, Trout/artichoke risotto, Hanger steak/endive/beets and a few more. All in the $17 to $21 range. There was on special - an italian fish soup (cioppino?) for $20
Contorni - $5 each - peas, broccoli rabe, wilted greens, polenta, roasted potatoes.
Cheese - assortment of italian cheeses - same pricing as the antipasti

What we had ~
Hanger Steak - cooked to order, medium rare. Served on what looked like braised melted leeks. Absolutely delicious
Trout - it was local "salmon" trout, I think from Sunburst. Cooked perfectly and served on a bed of risotto. Again, absolutely delicious.

Service - excellent. There was one small problem with one of the plates, it was whisked away and returned within a minute, problem corrected. In addition, the kitchen sent out a dish of sauteed greens in the way of apology - not necessary, but very appreciated. Very professional servers, working in teams.

Our time was limited, we were on our way to the Diana Wortham to see Koresh Dance Company (which was amazing!). So we didn't get to try anything other than a main course. It looks like there is a full bar, but I didn't get to check out the wine list (had already split a bottle of bubbly at Sante). There's a lot to sample on the menu and we look forward to trying it all.

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  1. Nancy, thanks for the excellent report. Where are they located?

    1 Reply
    1. Isn't this one of Hector's places (like Salsa's, Modesto, Chorizo)?
      If I'm thinking of the same location on Wall St....this seems to be the Bermuda Triangle of shops/restaurant locations. Since I've lived in Asheville (close to a decade) I've seen about 3 or 4 places come and go in this spot and none have made it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: leahinsc

        This is a blurb (maybe the whole thing) from the C-T last fall....

        Aug 10, 2007
        Cucina 24 - Italian dining - slated for Wall Street

        ASHEVILLE - More Italian flavors are coming to downtown. Local chef Brian Canipelli plans to open Cucina 24 later this year at 24 Wall St.

        The Picnics location on Merrimon used to be the Location of Doom. In the years I've lived here (going on 30 now) it's been several sub shops, an ill-fated BBQ place with the best smoked turkey sandwich - yum. When Picnics went in I was expecting them to meet the same fate. I'm so glad they haven't...

        1. re: leahinsc

          Not one of Hector's restaurants...owned and operated by local chef Brian Canipelli (was exec at Savoy a few years ago, and then sous at Rezaz while the restaurant was in the making). Was there twice already this week and everything was amazing. Along with fabulous food, the drink list is quite wonderful. I had something called a Calvino, with campari foam on top. To give you an idea, the bartender ran out of campari on their second night...I've never heard of that happening.
          Bringing friends in this weekend to sit at the beautiful booth by the bar. Can't wait.

          1. re: nc.eater

            Definitely not one of Hectors...remember...good food and service!

        2. We had lunch on Saturday. Indeed, beautiful space. I think they should post some hours and a menu on the front, we almost drove past because neither of these were in evidence and the place looked so dark (and we were driving past deliberately to eat there if it were opened.)

          Again, a gorgeous space as they led us to the back were the seating is. The breadsticks on the table were fantastic. Honestly, i expected breadsticks that were decoratively vertical on every table to be a "throw away", but they were salty and delicious. An amuse of poached shrimp bruschetta was nice, and then came the really great focaccia and very nice green olive oil. I had seconds, offered w/out my asking. The all Italian wine list (I think) had 5-6 by the glass choices, my Valpolicella was quite nice, about average price , i suppose at $8.

          I had a very nice strawberry salad w/ tiny baby arugula and my husband's salad w/ shrimp, greens , eggplant, and a few other veggies was also good.

          Honestly, we didn't just love our entrees. I had the veal canneloni, and while there was absolutely nothing wrong with it (we ate it all) nothing about it sang. The waiter tried to steer to me to the pea ravioli, and I wish i had not been so dense as to ignore his suggestion since he made it AFTER I told him i was thinking about the veal. Duh.

          My husband had the mushroom and soppresetta pizza. It was pretty good, had 3 kinds of mushrooms including oyster (yum) and fresh mozzerella, but the husband didn't think much of the soppresetta. i have no opinion on such...don't like the stuff and never order meat on pizza, so i can't really say. I thought the pizza was good enough that i would potentially order it myself w/ different toppings.

          So...great space, great service, food ranging from good to very good. On the way out the guy running the wood oven asked us how everything was...and it seemed like the most sincere asking of that question I've heard in a long time. I'll absolutely give the place another try.

          1. I couldn't agree more, very nice indeed. They did an excellent job with the remodel and have put together a really nice place to dine. Our food was excellent, service A+ and the only down side was the all Italian wine list. Not that I don't enjoy italian wines, but I like to have more of a selection.

            1. Ciao Hounds! Well, I made it to Cucina 24 tonight and am so glad I did!

              I had an out of town vegan guest up for the day and I am veg(an) myself so I called ahead to advise the kitchen we'd be coming.

              Well, let me just say the chef/owner (Brian) was very friendly when I called and once we arrived, we were treated to one of the best meals I have had anywhere.

              Our waiter told us the chef had prepared a special menu for us...I doubt I'd have chosen better.

              Each course of the four course meal was stellar.

              Really.

              From Antipasti ( A selection of olives, crostini w/fava bean puree, roasted and marinated red and yellow peppers, sauteed mushrooms - killer - (the house foccaccia and olive oil was very nice too - the oil very green/grassy)

              To Primi (orchiette pasta with asparagus and a ramp/stinging nettle pesto (!)

              Then Secondi (Artichoke hearts upon wonderfully fresh peas,spinach,string beans and golden beets in a saffron essense.

              And Dolce, ( Truly epic sorbet with fresh strawberries and a port wine reduction.) - and lastly a very good espresso. Not a dud anywhere.

              All this for about $35pp (no alcohol)

              If you haven't been here yet go now.

              My only complaint (minor) is they initially sat us at a small cramped table (my reservation 2 days prior was for a window) But they moved us immediately.

              It is also loud - however, we were there at prime time on a Saturday night...

              It's nice to see a new resto with great prices and service and food - I'll be back as soon as I can.

              Ciao Hounds!

              1 Reply
              1. re: jbyoga

                we were there saturday night and definately would recommend the place. i had warm asparagus/fried egg app and wahoo(special) main. all worthy! the a/c sucked but it was a heat wave that caught alot off guard so i won't hold that against them.
                :-)

              2. There were four of us on a very uncrowded night (02.19.2009). Despite that, the service was quite slow and they were not even able to deliver the main courses at the same time.

                But that really turned out to be irrelevant given that two of the main courses were quite awful.
                One was trout with a pancetta vinaigrette. There was no pancetta that I could discern, not to mention even a vinaigrette. As well, the trout was served on a bed of mashed potatoes.

                I have no idea what this has to do with Italian cooking.

                Then, another person at our party ordered the duck. The duck was okay, but the accompaniment to the duck was such that we could barely determine what it was. Again, one can ask what this has to do with Italian food.

                I conclude by saying that the service was slow (too often the case in Asheville) and, in addition, they were not even able to serve the entrees at the same time. More importantly, the food was not particularly good and had absolutely nothing to do with Italian food.

                Our party would never go back to this restaurant. Indeed, it really should go out of business. Were that to happen, it would not be a great loss.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Scirocco

                  I'm just curious. Is this the only time you've been to Cuchina 24?

                  1. re: garysanta

                    wow, I was astounded to read this review. We've been twice and each time everything was stellar. I have a friend who works nearby and all of her clients report the same positive comments for dinner AND lunch. I've been to Italy several times and thought the menu DID have a lot to do with Italian cusine - more Northern than Southern.

                    1. re: leahinsc

                      Yeah, that's pretty shocking. Been there in the last 3 weeks and they were just spot-on. Right on top of every detail in terms of service. Pitch-perfect preparations of the 6 different menu items we tried. Highlights were the hangar steak and the aged proscuitto and fig app. And a helluva wine list.

                    2. re: garysanta

                      Add me to the list that are astounded by your experience. Our group of 14 had dinner there on Wed 02/11 and had a wonderful evening enjoying the food, service and wine. Everybody is looking forward to a return visit. As to the Italian experience, most of our group has visited Italy (especially northern Italy and the Lake country) many, many times. Our consensus is that the food is very Italian (Northern, agree w/ Leah) with a delightful Asheville twist.

                      Your opinion that the restaurant should go out of business seems very judgemental and harsh.

                      1. re: NANCY

                        I agree w/ you Nancy...Garysanta - did you comment/complain to your server or management? I see from previous posts that you have also not like Savoy or Gabrielle's....where do you like to eat in Asheville?