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L'Uva in Durham Now Open

L'Uva the small Italian based eatery by Jim Anile (Revolution and previously Il Palio) is now open in ATC. They do lunch and dinner, but do not take reservations which may or may not be unfortunate for those wanting to dine pre theatre. Has anyone been yet or going soon? I've enjoyed his other places.

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  1. Those two places (Revolution and Il Palio) so underwhelmed me that I can't get even a tiny bit excited about this place. Someone go, give a rave report and I'll definitely rethink this. I love having new places to try.

    3 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      Really? Took some Yankees to Revolution and they were really amazed. I've only been twice and thought positively of both times. My only experience at Il Palio was when they use to offer the Sunday Mimosa Brunches adn the food was good. I've not been since Adam Rose took over about 3 years ago.

      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        My experience with Il Palio was similar - it was a brunch. And it felt like being in a Holiday Inn. The food was sort of just tossed out there: seemed commercial, no thought to it. Unimpressive. Then again, not really fair to judge a place by its brunch, but I would say that I've never had a truly dull brunch at a place that also has great dinners. And this was a truly dull brunch. Revolution is a really good looking place, and some of the things on the menu we tried were tasty, others seemed to me to be reaching beyond the chef's grasp. It seemed like style over substance. The room definitely gives a very positive impression, the food, eh. I'd go there for a drink in a minute, but would probably want to find someplace else to eat.

        1. re: LulusMom

          I'm not faulting you or anything as I've had the same types of experiences with other places that people swoon over like 18 Seaboard for me was just not good fish was dry and overcooked, but it could have been any number of factors. I think this place is going to be a little more focused given the space and the lack of reservations. Italian done by an italian.

          18 Seaboard
          18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

    2. Revolution doesn't get a lot of love on Chowhound, but it remains one of my favorite restaurants in Durham. The Ahi Poke Tuna and the Mussels are two of the best dishes that you will find anywhere in the Triangle. In fact, just about all of their small plates are good, and I think anyone who likes making a meal of small plates would find the food to be really good. And I love the atmosphere, though they seem to have some problems with controlling the temperature in the room. I concede that other dishes in the menu, particularly the large plates, can be inconsistent. So we generally order what we knew is excellent, and we're very happy with that. Also, they have some of the best bread you'll find in a restaurant, which is a crucial thing for me.

      They also have great cocktails (I'm talking about you, Pomegranate Lychee Martini). When I eat at Revolution, we sit at the bar, order lots of interesting cocktails, and get a bunch of small plates. We rarely sit at a table and order a standard dinner.

      Il Palio was apparently good when Anile was there, but I didn't ever eat there until after he left, and the meal that I did have there was completely forgettable.

      I am excited about L'Uva, and I expect it to be god. I didn't know it had opened. I'll check it out and file a report when I get a chance.

      1. We had the tasting menu at Il Palio when he was there and it was excellent. Haven't made it to Revolution, still.

        The Durham Mag sneak peek says that L'uva has porchetta on guglehupf rolls. That's enough to get me in the door.

        1 Reply
        1. re: brokegradstudent

          They do. Had a small taste yesterday thanks to my wife. The sample that I had was good but he meat could use more flavor and I'm not sure why everyone is sourcing from guglhupf when there are Italian stores in the area (i.e. Capri Flavors) and some one has to also be making bread.. Anyways, just a grumble though I have nothing against guglhupf.

          , Durham, NC

        2. We made it down to Durham today for lunch at L'Uva and I am glad to report it was wonderful. I think Jim Anile is a genius when it comes to fish and the roasted grouper was as good as any fish dish we've had anywhere. Plating looked as good as the fish tasted. Pasta with sausage was almost as good. And nutella gelato surrounded by finely chopped hazelnuts is a tasty dessert. My only complaint with lunch has to do with bread. They charge for bread and it looks impressive, with roasted garlic and olive oil and pesto. Had our waiter told us about it, we certainly would have ordered it. But we didn't know until one of the tables near us got it. It seems pretty special and worth the extra couple of bucks. Scallop salad looked grand as it passed our table and I'm sorry I didn't order it. Next time. And there definitely will be a next time. I'm definitely whelmed.

          6 Replies
          1. re: yahooer

            The rave review I've been waiting for. We'll try to get there soon. Thanks yahooer.

            1. re: yahooer

              Glad that there is a report. Though he isn't the chef I'm sure he developed the menu. Two things that the concept has going for it compared to Revolution is that it is concentrated on a certain region of cooking and the success that Anile has had with Italian cuisine in the past. Unfortunately, they do not take reservation and so if things start getting crazy there finding a seat may be hard. Hopefully, I can make a stop there before a show at DPAC.

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                I somehow missed which region. Which one is it?

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Sorry region wasn't what I meant, but as oppose to doing a little bit of everything tough I guess Revolution is continental. He was known, I thought, for his Italian food that he provided at Il Palio.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    Oh, ok. I thought maybe you meant a specific region, which could make a big difference in what sorts of foods they serve (you know the drill - butter in some parts, olive oil in others, even lard in some of the north-eastern parts, etc.).

                2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  You're right, foodie. Jim isn't the chef although he was there at lunchtime when we were there and I am easily confused. Sorry about that.

              2. Great to hear there's a good new place in ATC - though tearing the husband away from Tyler's and their beer will be a challenge :)

                  1. We ate at L'Uva for the first time this evening. I dearly wish I were sitting down at the computer to write a rave review about our dining experience, because I'm really pulling for L'Uva to be something special. And I think it has that potential. But tonight, it wasn't that. There was nothing really bad about our experience, it's just that it was rather... ordinary.

                    Unfortunately, the weather was not being cooperative, because I would have liked to have dined in the outdoor, glass-walled patio. There is a cozy looking fire on one side of it, and what looks like a mini-bar. But it was cold and drizzly out, so we opted to eat indoors. The decor is simple, the seats were comfortable, and while the restaurant was pretty full, the ambient noise level was perfectly acceptable. We had no problem hearing our dining companions. My first little disappointment of the evening is that their liquor license only allows beer and wine. The waiter said that they will probably get a full liquor license at some point, but they do not have it yet. They do make some wine cocktails, but I didn't try them. (If anything, I like my wine fortified, not diluted.) I got a glass of moscato as an aperitif, and we got a bottle of a nondescript Italian white with dinner. They were drinkable, but not at all memorable. The bottle was only $28 dollars, so in terms of value, I'd say the wine was fine. All the wine is served in tumblers, which probably wouldn't have bothered me if I had been able to order a cocktail first, but if all I get to drink is wine, I would like at least like to have a festive glass.

                    My partner and I split the Beef Carpaccio appetizer, which had artichokes, shaved parmesan, fresh lemon and olive oil. The beef itself was good, but not exceptional; the artichokes, while it's possible that they were prepared in-house, tasted to me like they could have come out of a jar; I didn't discern the lemon, and the olive oil was of a quality that I would use for cooking, not for drizzling. As an appetizer it was fine, and the bread was respectable (incidentally, no extra charge for bread at dinner).

                    For entrees, my partner and I shared two dishes: the Venison Sausage Risotto, with baby spinach, roasted garlic, and grana padano; and the Braised Short Ribs, with roasted parsnips, caramelized carrots, and gremolada. The risotto was of a less creamy variety than what I prefer, but good people can disagree about that. The venison sausage was unoffensive, with no particular seasoning that I could pick out, but it tasted fine, and had a nice moist texture. I'm assuming it was made in-house, but if I were going to go through all the trouble to make venison sausage, I would try to make it more flavorful. I didn't notice any roasted garlic in the dish. The beef short ribs were probably the best thing we ordered. The beef was sufficiently soft, though I would not have objected to it being just a bit more tender. The braising sauce was rich and yummy, and the vegetables, though not abundant, were nicely done. But the gremolata was basically just a green garnish that added no flavor to the dish whatsoever. I didn't taste any lemon zest, garlic, salt, or any of the sort of flavor intensity that you should get in a gremolata.

                    I found most of the dishes to be slightly underseasoned. Again, this is a matter of taste, and admittedly I like salt. I especially like salt when it is on the table, which it was not here. As I write this, I find myself fantasizing that if I had asked for salt, maybe they would have brought me a beautiful and precious little pewter bowl of fleur de sel, with it's own little pewter spoon, and that sprinkling some really good salt on my meal would have taken it up a notch. It's possible. But I think the dishes needed more than salt to save themselves from being bland. I mean really, it's an Italian enoteca, I should have tasted some garlic somewhere.

                    We didn't order any desert. The presence of tiramisu on their desert menu is something I find a little worrisome.

                    So all in all, this was a perfectly okay dinner out in Downtown Durham. There was no electric buzziness to the vibe at L'Uva, but it was casual and comfortable. I went into L'Uva with very high hopes and expectations, which were not met. Maybe my expectations weren't realistic. I will certainly go back once or twice, and maybe if both the level of the food and the level of my expectations are adjusted a little, it could still become a happy happy place for me.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: durhamois

                      Great review of a not so great dinner. I laughed out loud at the tiramisu line. And I'm SO with you on salt. I don't think of myself as being someone who needs a lot of salt. In fact, I rarely salt the food at restaurants. But the one place I find myself wanting to salt stuff, Kitchen, is the one place that doesn't put out salt shakers. So I feel like some sort of philistine when I ask for it there. But ask I do!

                      1. re: durhamois

                        Thanks so much for the review. My personal take on salt is that restaurants should use less in the dish served and offer it on the table (as someone whose whole family suffers from high blood pressure, we'd appreciate some creative contributions to dishes served to diners that do not involve the high amounts of salt that most use - to me that's just a creative copout) but anyone who wants more should absolutely be offered the opportunity to add it.

                        I want to try this place - and hope that it works for us. I'm sorry you didn't get more of what you were hoping for :(

                        1. re: durhamois

                          Good to hear another discerning critique. I hope the restaurant gets its legs under it and takes off. Something like this what this restaurant is trying to do is what is needed in ATC especially now that the theatre is there. Don't get me wrong. Pizza and beer joints are fine and Cuban Revolution isn't all that, but it does provide a bit more atmosphere than Tylers and Mellow Mushroom, but a good.. enoteca or trattoria (I don't know the technicalities between the two) is a great addition. I think they are working on things and I wonder if you'd entertain the idea of seeing how their lunch would be. I think Tirimisu is like a benchmark for some people with Italian restaurants.. I mean for diners not for the chefs. I think it is also offered for people who may not be that adventurous if say something like Olive Oil ice cream is offered. As far as the critique on salt being on the table vs. in the food. Well adding the salt while hot will allow it to melt into the dish vs. once it is already in front of you.. Though I udnerstand under salting and letting people add to it what they'd like. I guess maybe there is some chemistry type things going on that I don't know about because I've not check out Harold McGee's tomes.

                          Durhamois may argue with me, but if this place doesn't work.. how about they put in a small bistro? I still think a yakitori bar would be great for a small space or hell lets get someone that knows what their doing and make a dedicated ramen place.

                          Oh and today Monday is 1/2 price bottles of wine at L'Uva based on their facebook posting.

                        2. Went yesterday for lunch with my wife because we were near the area. The weather and patio were great and no bugs flying around the food. It was a nice afternoon.

                          I was hoping for the porchetta, but they had recently taken it off the menu to replace it with a roasted lamb sandwich which I opted for instead. The sandwich comes on a nice roll (made by Guglhupf I believe) and is topped with fireroasted tomatos and basil pesto. It also comes with house made chips that have .. rosemary (I think) on them. Both of these were good though I would have liked more chips. The bread is extra and comes with pesto and olive oil. It was good bread and I liked that the pesto was used instead your typical mix that can be underwhelming. I also ordered a side of spinach and asparagus (because I need my veggies). The spinach was labeled as spinach and garlic, but I tasted no garlic at all. Both were cooked in OO as there was some on the plate that was served.

                          My wife got a beet salad that was arranged like a caprese. It was beets, goat cheese, basil (I think) and tomatos. She enjoyed it and I enjoyed my sandwich it was just the right amount of food for lunch. I'll gladly come back to check out dinner and maybe trying something more intriguing than a sandwich.

                          1 Reply
                          1. They have a very good lunch special, for $10 you get to choose two of five possible dishes: a soup, salad, sandwich, the speical of the day, or dessert. All three of us got the same two items, the risotto special of the day with lardon and mushrooms and an open-faced ruben. The risotto wasn't the creamiest that I've had but appropriately toothsome and nice flavor. The ruben was fine. This place shows promise: the menu had interesting choices for dinner, the ambiance is pleasant and attractive, and the service was attentive but not overbearing. Will have to come back here and try dinner.

                            1. A friend and I had a fabulous dinner tonight (pork special and leg of lamb) at L'uva: excellent food, excellent service from Brenen, and overall very enjoyable evening. By the way, I was told that they DO take reservations and have since a few weeks after opening. It was nice to see meals that did not look exactly like the presentation everywhere else in town. I can't wait to return!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: MaryJW

                                Anyone else eaten at L'Uva lately? I'm ready to give it a second chance, unless there's a good reason not to.

                                1. re: durhamois

                                  I ate there last Thursday night for the first time and had a really good meal. We sat outside on the heated patio since it was early in the evening and the weather was so mild. We ordered a couple of salads, one was a special that included prosciutto and house made mozzarella balls (really good), a bowl of a very tasty (butternut?) squash soup, and the pork osso buco (excellent). I'm looking forward to going back soon.

                                  1. re: durhamois

                                    We were there again the other day and again, it was wonderful. Starting with the bread which supposedly comes from New Jersey and is the best bread I know. Olive oil and pesto is great for dipping. We ordered linguine bolognaise with a salad and another delicious salmon dish, the menu said it was poached in olive oil but it wasn't oily just moist and almost creamy in texture served with salad. I saw Jim Anile there and was told the regular chef is back in Italy right now so Jim is in the kitchen for both lunch and dinner. If you're looking to give L'uva a second chance, Durhamois, this is a good time.

                                    1. re: yahooer

                                      The lady and I went to try the new brunch service at L'Uva this past Sunday and were pretty pleased overall. The brunch menu is a mashup of their lunch and dinner offerings but they really seem to be promoting their $5.00 antipasto brunch plates. For $5.00, you get three choices from a modest selection of meats, cheeses, veggies, etc.

                                      We each got an antipasto plate plus a strawberry spinach salad and a cup of tasty tomato gazpacho. The antipasto plates were very generous portions for the price and we decided that we could have easily done without our additional orders of salad and gazpacho. Everything was very good with exception of the frittata that was part of my antipasto plate. That frittata was outrageously salty to the point of being inedible. I think someone must have spilled the salt box in that batch.

                                      Anyway, the weather was pleasantly cool and we enjoyed our brunch on the patio whilst sipping sangaria. Bonus: Sangaria carafes are half price on Sundays.