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May 21, 2008 07:56 PM

Asheville, Cucina 24 (and thoughts compared to Sugo)

We went to Cucina 24 tonight based on all the good reviews, so here's my report. I could not help but compare it to Sugo, perhaps in part due to the fact that they sat us by the window with a perfect view of it from above the street. Loved the space, they have done a great job. It was a Wednesday at 7:30 and we got the last table outside of sitting at the bar. Service was fine, nothing stellar, nothing horrible...we had a lot of questions because some thing on the menu were unfamilar to me (cacio, guanciale), and she was able to answer all of that but when we asked for her picks between our narrowed down choices she hadn't tried a lot of the things on the menu. She also mixed up on of the apps we ordered (3 for $11 antpasti plate), but that worked out well because she caught it and brought us out the original order, so we had 4 apps instead of 3.

For the antipasti we had citrus cured olives, fried mozzarella, proscuitto/melon and artichoke hearts topped with some crunchy breadcrubs. Let me stop here and say that if you are going to compare Sugo and C24, then I think Sugo wins hands down on the starter front. Everything we have tried at Sugo has been amazing, and the antipasti here was just OK. Everything was a little bland except for the olives, and well...they were just olives. They also gave us thow very thin slices of bread with some nice green olive oil, but again...I'll take the warm hunks from Sugo with the yummy white bean dip over that any day.

Entrees. Maybe I am out of line because we opted for pasta instead of a secondi, but I also thought I'd rather be down at Sugo. Not that C24 was bad, it was good. I had the carbonara, which was very peppery and had a nice portion of fried pork cheek (bacon-y) scattered throughout, but I got kind of sick of it after a few bites. My husband ordered a special, wild boar paparadelle (I know I am misspelling that) that was braised in white wine, citrus and olives. His was much better, the pasta extremely thin, light and fresh...a nice complement to the flavorful meat. Still, we could not help but compare it to the boar pasta with cherries that we have enjoyed many times at Sugo that is so delicious.

I guess I should be very thankful that there is more than one place now to have a nice pasta/Italian meal here in Asheville, not to mention for a reasonable price (at both places, pasta dishes are in the $13-18 range). I would go back to Cucina 24, but I still wish the very best for Sugo. I think it is a notch above what we had tonight.

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  1. My husband and I haved dined at Cucina 24 several times since the opening and have had such a great experience every time. We were also there Wednesday night. So far, we have yet to find something we didn't like. And the service is always great for us. We did have to grill our waitress because we were VERY unfamiliar with alot of the items and she had a detailed explanation for every question without making us feel like we didn't know anything about food. They definitely have a unique cocktail list. I tried a couple of things that I normally wouldn't based on the girl's reccomendation and found a new favorite drink, I believe it was called a calvina? Anyway it was great. We had the lamb shoulder ( I get it every time) and the veal & sweetbreads and as usual the flavors were very satisfying.... Overall, we welcome a restaurant that so far has been consistent (which is hard to find) in this town.

    1. This post really makes me want to try Sugo! I had a great meal at C24 and have heard great things about Sugo as well. Is one really better than th other or are they equally good and just different...?

      1 Reply
      1. re: jbyoga

        I think they are a lot alike, which is why I could not help but compare one to the other while we dined at C24. Similar price point, similar menu. Looking at the C24 menu reminded me right away of Sugo's...for example, Sugo has a goat cheese agnolotti with sweet potato cream sauce and pancetta, C24 has an agnolotti with sweet pea cream sauce and pancetta. Both have carbonara. Sugo has a penne with house made sausage and greens, C24 has an orichette with sausage and rapini. Both have a brown-butter based pasta dish. My husband's favorite at Sugo, a wild boar pasta, was the special on the night we went to C24. The last time I went to Sugo I had an incredible fettucini with a truffle cream sauce...a tagilatelle with truffle butter is on the menu at C24. Both serve hangar steak as their cut of beef. Both have braciole on the secondi menu. I will say that Sugo tends to lean heavier on the meat and C24 seems to have more fish options. Anyway, I guess all of this would not be so odd if we were talking Macaroni Grill or some other pasta chain with every dish under the sun available...but the menu listings are pretty edited at Sugo/C24 and as you can see, they are very similar in my opinion. I should note that I know Sugo changes the menu seasonally. I would think C24 would as well.

        Again, C24 was not bad. Not at all. I'd like to (and will) give it another try. I just think Sugo is better. The bread and appeitzers at Sugo are much better. And we have had excellent service at Sugo, and it was fine at C24. Again, nothing wrong, just not up that one little notch that I love when I am spending $100+ on a nice dinner out.

        I have since decided that I'd be a little ticked if I were the chef at Sugo and saw the menu at Cucina 24! It looks like they just ran across the street and copied it.

      2. We were in Asheville a few weekends ago and dined at Cucina 24 - we found the food the best of all the restaurants we dined at, but the service was lamentable. Shockingly so in consideration of the really fine cooking. We had considered Sugo but at the last minute changed our mind; and now I understand the restaurant has closed. As much as I enjoyed the food at Cucina 24, I don 't know that I would return there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sazall

          too bad...we went about a month ago and had excellent service and food. I know at least one of the wait staff - he is also a bartender at Limones - so I would say that Cucina 24 is trying to hire professional or at least serious wait staff. Maybe you just caught them on a bad night? Like many cities, it is hard to find good wait staff in Asheville. It is a more expensive place to live than many people realize and with the downturn in the economy and fewer people eating out, servers are having a hard time making a go of it.

          1. re: leahinsc

            I was at Cucina 24 a couple weeks ago with a small party (3) and found our server (a pleasant young woman) to be totally knowledgeable of the menu and it's preparation. She was also able to suggest a very nice wine. I'd have to say the service was superior to the food. Three disgraceful arancini about the size of a quarter for $11. The veal cheeks were good but the sweetbreads were the consistency of liver. I've been eating sweetbreads since I was 9 and I've never had any like that. The pork shoulder braised in milk was ok but blah. If you can make Marcella's milk braised pork I'd say just stick with that. The cauliflower soup was quite good but the mussels were made one dimensional by too much garlic. Three apps, three entrees, wine, $180 incl. tip.

        2. This past weekend I took six my girlfriends from out of town to Cucina 24. I am so glad we decided to go there. The atmosphere was great--full but not too crazy, very modern but cozy/romantic and we had a great table right in front of the open kitchen and in the center of the dining room. Several of the girls ordered a very interesting drink, The Merchant of Venice, consisting of prosecco, pomegranitite juice and cinnamon. It was a hit. We then ordered a trio of antipasta of roasted beets with hazlenuts, soppresetta, and fried mozzerella. All delicious. Orders then ranged from the special salad of blood orange on pea shoots followed by pizza, to soup and salad to the butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce(three people ordered this dish and there was nothing left on all three plates). We also ordered a side of the best brussel sprouts I have ever tasted, for which I credit the deliciously salty pancetta that accompanied the brussels. All in all we had an incredible meal, one of the best I have ever had in Asheville (and I have had some good ones at Limones, Savoy and Enotecha), everything went smoothly with out orders, did not have to wait too long, had a great, helpful waiter, and our bill was very reasonable - for really good food. I can not recommend this place enough! So happy to have such a delious place to eat with great atmosphere that doesnt have to break the bank. Please let's help this and our other locally owned, small restaurants and businesses surivive the economic downturn by continuining to support them. Your vote is with your dollar! Also, just a side note we had a great lunch that day at Mayfel's where once again, everyone enjoyed everything she ordered, particularly the bloody mary bar and the fried green tomato po boy.