I'm graduating from college on the 14th of June and I need somewhere to eat on the 13th (Friday the 13th... spooky). My dad will eat anything but my mom is a steak and fish person. I don't eat fish, but I'll eat just about anything else. As a family, we generally gravitate toward Italian. Price isn't a big deal since it's my graduation, but if there's a spectacular place that won't make my dad grumpy about the bill, that'd be great too. I'm in school in Northfield and my parents are staying in Burnsville, so anywhere near there would be good too.
From one Carleton grad, to a soon-to-be Carleton grad, let me offer my congratulations.
Now onto the food. If you are looking for very good Italian -- south of the city, your best bet is to hit Osteria i Nonni in Lillydale. It is not too far up from Burnsville just off of 35E. They serve some of the best Italian that you will find anywhere in the state. There are enough options to please meat, fish, and other food eaters.
If you are not set on Italian or on staying in the immediate Burnsville area, I would recommend you go up to Minneapolis. The night before my graduation 16 years ago we went for dinner at Lucia's in Uptown, and I still think that is one of the best restaurants in the city. The menu is small, and changes with what is in season. But I have always found the food very good.
My favorite restaurant in the city is Restaurant Alma. I was actually there last night and had an outstanding meal. Like Lucia's the menu changes pretty regularly and is relatively small. They have a great three course tasting menu where the first course is more of an appetizer, the second course tends to be a pasta, and the third is the entree -- last night they had artic char, halibut, pork tenderloin, and duck.
Perron's Sul Lago in Prior Lake.
From their web site:
"The Perron's Sul Lago menu emphasizes continental cuisine with a strong Italian accent. Everything we serve is made fresh daily, and each evening we offer different seasonal specials. "
I think it is one of the best establishments south of the MN river.