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Feb 23, 2010 03:34 PM

Piccolo Restaurant, Minneapolis

Has anyone checked this place out yet? I'm very curious. Here's what I've read:
-The chef is Doug Flicker of Auriga
-a large tasting menu, all offered a la carte. Small plates—but not tapas.
-It's set up like Victory 44. No servers or managers, just chefs.
-The website description: "Piccolo presents a modern approach to dining by creating dishes moderate in portion size which we feel enhances the dining experience by allowing you more variety in taste while eating healthier."

Will someone with more disposable income than me please check it out and report back!? Please!?

Piccolo Restaurant
4300 Bryant Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN, 55409

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  1. I've been there and liked the food a lot. It is basically like having a tasting menu, except that you choose what you're getting for each course. I'd say you get 6-7 bites for each plate you order, on average. I tried a whole bunch of stuff and unfortunately I'm having trouble remembering precisely what I had - the things that stand out in my memory as having been especially good are the scallop, the black cod, and the gnocchi/white bean plate. There was nothing that I particularly disliked or would recommend against. All the desserts were good but I liked the pannacotta best.

    I've seen some reviews suggesting that it's too expensive for what you get and sure, it's not cheap, but I don't think it's really that different from what other places charge for a product of the same quality. If you got 4 plates, depending on what they are, you'd probably spend around $45. If you go to a lot of restaurants around MSP and get a starter, entree, and dessert, it'll cost about the same and you'll have less variety.

    I don't know anything about Victory 44, but there are servers at Piccolo.

    1. We went to PIccolo on Sunday evening, after our reservations for Heidi's obviously needed to be cancelled. We had an absolutely wonderful evening sharing a 1/2 bottle of wine, 6 small plates, and dessert between the two of us. The bill came to around $120 before tip, which I don't feel is unreasonable for a special evening out. We've certainly paid more at other top restaurants around the city.

      In general every plate had some absolutely wonderful aspects, and some aspects that weren't bad but didn't really need to be there. For example, one of the dishes was roasted chicken with pears, onions, and pain perdu. The chicken was absolutely wonderful contrasted with the sweet pears, but the pain perdu, while a luxurious piece of french toast, didn't add much. Similarly we ordered the ravioli with swiss chard (I think, or kale, or another winter green), which came with duck breast and dates. The duck and dates were phenomenal, while the ravioli was just okay. For dessert we got the malted panna cotta which was breathtaking. The service was fantastic, very friendly and comfortable, and the manager (or owner perhaps) brought over a complimentary glass of port to have with dessert and apologized for the wait, meanwhile we didn't even notice any time had passed. Overall a great evening.

      I'm not sure either what is meant by no servers, only chefs, as there definitely were servers.

      1 Reply
      1. re: katebauer

        Maybe I was missing a thread, but I wanted to mention Piccolo. We were able to hit Piccolo on Saturday night. Fantastic – they said that the menu changed just a few days prior…and it was really impressive!!! I think there may have been was some overlap from the previous menu…..

        (sorry for lack of description):

        Sliced octopus (my favorite)
        Scrambled egg/pigs feet
        Smoked sturgeon
        Sea bream (dynamite)
        Duck (really good seared breast/braised leg)
        Chocolate terrine
        Bergamot cheesecake/pear ice cream (it was silly how good this was!!!)

        I was surprised how small the space really was – but it was perfect…..we had great service….although the timing between a few courses was LONG….but the server & hostess kept our drinks filled….so it wasn’t too bad! (sat down just after 6pm….left by 8:15ish….)

        As for portions size and cost – NO COMPLAINTS at all… wife and I split all of the above….and we were stuffed when we left (and I was hungry walking-in). We were directed that 2-3 plates are the norm....but 5 is do-able.....we did 4.5 each...Throw in 2 coffees, 4 drinks and a 20% tip: $158. I don’t think that is bad at all….add in the fact that we were able to walk in really early (we had 8pm reservations…but plans changed) – and the hostess was very accommodating and squeezed us in a 2-top.

        I’d go back in a heartbeat…..I hope that people continue to visit this place!!!

      2. We had a great meal at Piccolo last night. Between the two of us we shared 6 plates and we were too full for dessert. We ate the sliced octopus, scrambled eggs with pickled pig's feet, potato gnocchi with pistachio butter, fried pork hock, duck with prunes, and swiss chard wrapped lamb loin. When we arrived, the server said that everything on the menu was good and it really was. The scrambled eggs were luscious and creamy and the gently pickled pig's feet added porky goodness. The gnocchi were light and delicate. They melted in my mouth. I also quite liked the pistachio butter, not transcendent, but really good.. The pork hock was encased in a cornmeal (I think) crust and fried and the potato puree was pure, creamy goodness. The duck was perfectly cooked and tasted great wit the sweet prunes. The lamb loin was succulent and was complimented by the slightly spicy merguez sausage. The raviolo had tender pasta and a cauliflower filling which made for an interesting consistency. I can't wait to go back and try some of the other dishes (tripe ragout, artichoke gratin, etc).

        6 Replies
        1. re: BigSal

          We went to the Anthony Bourdain show last night and he said that he ate and taped some scenes at Piccolo last night. You probably just missed him! He was extremely positive about his meal and the whole experience of eating there.

          1. re: katebauer

            I heard some talk of Anthony at Piccolo last night. I thought that they went to the show. How was the show?

            1. re: katebauer

              That segment aired on 'No Reservations' last night.

              AB went to restaurants in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and MSP. He said that Piccolo was far and away the best meal of the group, FWIW.

            2. re: BigSal

              We were there last night as well. We had a 9p reservation, and didn't see any other 2-tops, so we must have missed each other.

              First of all, I have to say the service was brilliant, especially for a place that opened just this year. The team there nailed everything from my particular (and probably unreasonable request on Opentable, to refilling water, to supplying absurd amounts of bread.

              The room at Piccolo is boisterous. Surprising for a restaurant this size, but the very affordable and brilliantly accessible wine menu might have had something to do with this. This is an outstanding restaurant for groups, but know that the room is quite loud.

              We began with the charcuterie plate. Three slices of rabbit sausage dabbed with seasonal herbs. I wish the whimsy of the herbs was matched by the meat itself. When I think of charcuterie, I think of improvisation and variety. The dishes tasted good, but I expect something a bit more special from the, um, special.

              From there, the wife ordered the beet terrine and the gnocchi, and I went with the octupus and sea bream.

              The octopus is brilliant. This is the sort of dish that should be busy, and it is, but the flavors have a sort of kinesis. Pickled veggies just sing to the well marinated meat, and splotches of savory this-n-that glue the flavors together.

              Quite the opposite with the sea bream, which, while well-prepared, lacked cohesion. The radish halves that populated the plate added nothing to the dish, and literally obscured the lemon puree, which would have made a lot more sense of the salty fish and celery root brandade. This dish didn't click for me until the last bite. I know we're excited to get fresh veggies on the table, but let's not lose focus, eh?

              I didn't get to taste the beet terrine or the gnocchi. The terrine looked sparse, and the wife affirmed that it lacked luster. The gnocchi looked luscious, and my wife guarded it as such. I'll take that as a thumbs up.

              I should make a note about the bread. It is ubiquitous, and quite good (hurray for hard bread and soft butter!), but seems at cross purposes with the Piccolo mission statement. I appreciated the fact that we could have a nighttime, lighter meal, without the pressure to order beaucoup courses, and Piccolo has a light hand with fats.

              But the constant replenishment of bread butter scuttles the whole enterprise. Let's face it, when there is tasty bread in front of us, we'll eat it. Maybe and amuse or olive plate would be more appropriate for what they are trying to accomplish?

              I mean, it would be a shame if people didn't have room for the cheesecake. I am not usually a fan of dessert, but this is genius. It made us think about sneaking in before close sometime and just ordering the three desserts.

              Frankly, for a restaurant this new to have perfect 10 service and two must-order dishes is pretty impressive. Piccolo is probably a year away from joining the top tier of restaurants in the Twin Cities.

              1. re: kevin47

                Yes, we must have just missed each other. I love the idea of going late night and just having desserts. I will definitely have to try the cheesecake next.

                1. re: kevin47

                  My visit there -- with wife and 4 friends -- sounds very similar to this. It's very unlike me to say this, but the only thing I wished was different was the addition of tablecloths. For some reason, the cheapish tables with no tablecloths struck me as out of place.

                  Other than that nitpicky thought, I enjoyed it.

              2. Query wheher Jfood has tried it yet?????

                1. We finally made it to Piccolo last night. Overall, I was quite impressed. The service was good. We had an 8:30 reservation, but it was probably close to 9 by the time we were seated. However, I understand that it is quite difficult to time your reservations in such a small space. One table staying longer than expected can throw off the timing quite a lot. To compensate, we were given complementary glasses of wine while we waited which was a nice touch.

                  We had 7 savory small plates between us and each had dessert. I very much enjoyed getting to try multiple courses. The courses ranged from pretty good to awesome.

                  Compressed apple with fennel and pumpkin with pimenton oil - crisp and fresh with a hint of smokiness from the pimenton - it was tasty, but probably my least favorite dish of the night - it just needed a little something to bring it all together more.

                  Fried fig with cheese - mmm....crispy outside, soft inside, an excellent combination with the cheese

                  Pork Belly with brussel sprouts, ham and chestnuts - delicious! Beautifully tender pork matched perfectly with the accompaniments. This was probably the single best thing I have had at a restaurant in the past year or so.

                  Scrambled eggs with pigs feet - creamy eggs with a nice hint of pork. However, they were served at the same time as the pork belly and this dish just did not quite compare.

                  Duck with artichokes, cherries and Spanish ham - quite good. The ham brought a little extra bit of richness that was balanced by the tartness of the cherries (and the sauce which had a vinegar element to it).

                  Chicken with onions and Virginia ham - tender, well cooked chicken, but it was the onion sauce that really made this dish. Nice and smoky, but with a bit of sweetness from the carmelized onions.

                  Veal with cipollini onions and olives - very flavorful. The olives were subtle, but added a nice briny touch.

                  Desserts were quince tart with ginger and ice cream and chocolate apple cider cake with figs and coffee syrup. Both were a bit more "simple" than the rest of the food, but they were tasty.