People that dine out in Charleston have a tendency to underestimate the value of making reservations. So many times, I talk to a group of people at my job and they’ll say something like “Oh, we’d prefer to just wing it. We’ll make reservations for tomorrow.” Umm, hello? We’re in full swing of tourist season coming up on Family Circle Cup weekend. No reservations? Seriously.
Pardon me while I stay on my soapbox for a minute to talk about how having reservations probably saved us from waiting multiple hours. My mom and a family friend are in town for a few days and I always rack my brain to find us places they haven’t dined before. I have probably eaten almost everywhere (save the tourist traps on the market a la Bubba Gump’s and Noisy Oyster) but I like to experiment when they’re in town. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want their parents to pay when you all go out for dinner? One place that I know they haven’t been to before is Pane E Vino. They don’t have a website, so I figured I’d snap a few exterior pics so you’ll know where you’re going and don’t go flying right on by.
Adorable. I didn’t want to be that obnoxious person snapping picture after picture inside the restaurant. I can only imagine what the other diners would have thought if I was poised, camera at the ready in a place that has barely 9 tables. I wasn’t about to ruin the ambiance. Regardless, I will say that it is like sitting in someone’s intimate library that just so happens to serve pasta. Upon our arrival, I noticed that there were no empty tables. On Monday, we arrived right at 8:30 which is when our reservations were. Needless to say, I was a little upset at first. However, the hostess swept over to us with menus, the wine list, and 3 glasses of water within 3 minutes of us entering the door. She apologized profusely about the wait and reassured us that they were doing the best they could to seat us. She seemed grateful that we were patient. After she left us to attend to another table, the part owner Masimillione greeted us in a thick, Italian accent. He also promised that they would seat us as soon as possible and offered us a drink from the bar. This actually happened twice in 10 minutes, which was all that we waited for. Really not all that bad considering they didn’t have their patio open and only had the use of about 8 tables total. We were impressed. Not just concerned service, this, ladies and gentlemen, was a trait that few restaurants posess: empathy.
That was their biggest selling point. I really wanted their food to wow me and to be honest, the entrees were pretty close to fantastic. Their appetizers and dessert were kind of wierd. We got a bottle of Nero D’Avola, similar in taste and pairing abilities to an Oregon Pinot Noir, which was well worth the money we spent ($38). I’ll let you be the judge:
This was our Melanzana del Gosto, aka baked eggplant stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and topped with red sauce. I’m not gonna lie, it was a little disappointing. The eggplant was actually tough which leads me to believe that it simply wasn’t cooked long enough. The sauce itself was seasoned well but the texture of the eggplant kind of ruined the dish for me.
On to the best part, the entrees:
Trudi’s. This was the Pappardelle all’ Antica that consisted of delicious homemade noodles and ground pork. Some interesting notes to this dish were the unexpected additions of saffron and anise, giving it a lighter feel when the dish could definitely have been overly dense and filling. I recommend it if you’re looking for a satisfying, meaty pasta.
Alright, I really can’t fault them at all on this dish. It was fantastico. The penne alla Maremmana was delicious. The cream wasn’t too heavy or overpowering and the mushrooms were oakey and infused into absolutely every pore of the penne. Awesome.
Uber yummy. The Chianti-green peppercorn reduction went superbly with the potatoes and the lamb. Unfortunately, I should probably admit now that I actually picked up the bones and chewed some of the lamb meat off. I am such a carnivore.
Yes, our entrees were pretty good and everything was a value. The pastas were $12 and $12.50 and my lamb was $25.50. And we did leave satisfied. But not wowed. It was good, not great. I would consider going back at some point, but it really wasn’t enough to keep me coming back on a regular basis. If you haven’t been there, you should probably see what all the fuss is about. I’m just not sure if it lives up to the hype.