Italian in Jacksonville?
On our last visit to Jax we discovered Bamboo Creek, thanks to a helpful Chowhounder. Now we are going back, next weekend to visit our daughter at JU. We will probably stay at the Omni downtown. She is DYING for some good pasta (totally tired of the institutional food on campus) so I thought I would ask again here.
Any good ideas? Is Bistro Aix still worth checking out as an almost Italian alternative?
In my opinion, the best place for pasta in Jacksonville is La Cena. It is located on Laura St. downtown, so it is also very close to where you will be staying. They have a variety of freshly made pastas, and the last time my wife and I went, we loved everything. It is a little bit pricey, but the portions are gigantic, so its hard to say you did not get your moneys worth.
I understand Dwight's Bistro in Jacksonville Beach also has very good Italian, but that is a pretty good hike, especially with La Cena right nearby. (I have never been there, but its at the top of my list for places to visit.)
With regard to Bistro Aix, I have mixed emotions. I love the atmosphere, appetizers and pizzas. However, every time I get an entree, I am always disappointed. When I express this opinion to others, they seem to agree with this as well. I really have no idea why they cannot get the entrees right when they do such a good job with other stuff. The last time I was there, I ignored my better instincts to just get a pizza, and I ordered the duck. It was rubbery, flavorless and definitely my worst experience with duck. But, they do other things well, so I'd still recommend it.
Enjoy your trip to Jax!
re: RHT in JAX
I second RHT's recommendation of La Cena as hands down the finest pasta in Jax. Please take the time to fully read the menu and absorb what is there - don't be afraid to ask questions. If in doubt, just go with the handmade pasta in one of the dozens of preparations available - they'll let you know what's ready for that day. When you get the gist of how to enjoy the experience that Gerry and his crew have waiting for you, you'll be in for a memorable night. The portions are huge, it's worth the $$ (trust us, it really is...), and don't be in a hurry. Just let them do it their way, and you'll be glad you did. La Cena also has a great list of Italian wines, properly stored and served.
As for JU and the vicinity, tell your daughter she has to get up to Ft. Caroline Road to check out the Blue Boy sandwich shop - a Jacksonville instituiton. Great sandwiches on in-house baked bread. A healthy walk from campus, but worth it. One sandwich, one family, one meal - that's their motto... I also highly recommend the Donut Shoppe next to the Gate station on university north - ask if they have uglies, and start your diet tomorrow...
My thoughts on Aix parallel RHT's. The restaurant is great - except for the food, sometimes. You might give Basil a try - on the corner of Hendricks and Prudential Drive - very good Thai in the Southbank area, right across the street from bb's, another favorite.
I hate to admit it, being an italian american....but down here Bucca di Peppo-delivers on taste, quality, loud atmosphere. Try to get a table/booth in the kitchen or for big parties the Pope's Room. My favs are the house salad, chicken marsala & rosa pasta.