Sunday, January 11, 2015

     It's time once again to enjoy one of the many benefits of living in the Lowcountry, Charleston Restuarant Week.   Over 150 area restaurants are offering a semi-annual prix fixe dinner menu, ranging from $20.00 to $40.00 per person for a three course meal, from January 7th to January 18th.  Each January and September, Charleston Restaurant Week attracts both tourists and locals interested in sampling the ample talents of the Lowcountry culinary scene.
     The first of my two restaurant choices this week is Vincent Chicco's Italian American Restaurant.
located along a quaint alley that connects Hutson St. to John St.   Bordered by sister restaurants Michael's on the Alley, Coast and Rue de Jean, as well as the coctail bar Victor's Social Club,  Vincent Chiccos occupies a renovated and creatively subdivided warehouse behind the Meeting Street Embassy Suites.  All are owned by Bennett Hospitality group.
     With soaring, mustard colored stucco walls, huge gold framed mirrors and a combination of banquette and counter table seating, Vincent Chicco's is all about comfort and service.  We arrived for dinner bundled up for below-freezing weather and were able to conveniently check our coats.  My seating request for a banquette was honored and due to my mobility issues, a waitress even escorted me to the ladies room (unnecessary but very nice).  Our waiter, Johnny, was attentive and knowledgeable, imparting a history of the building and details about the menu with equal skill.
     The menu is broken up into three sections: appetizers and salads, American-style Italian offerings and Classic Roman Italian dishes.  We look forward to returning to sample the Roman dishes, but decided to try the meals showcased on the Restaurant Week menu this time.
     For our first course, we chose the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio and the classic Italian Salad.  The Beef Carpaccio featured thinly sliced, marinated sirloin on a bed of watercress and arugula with horseradish aioli.  Garlic crostinis were the perfect crispy match to the tenderness of the beef.  My House Italian Salad was a generously sized plate of assorted greens (lots of arugula, my favorite green), thinly sliced heirloom radishes, chopped yellow and red cherry tomatoes tossed in a light, olive oil house dressing.  (Red onions were excluded at my request.)  This salad was more flavorful than most of the house salads I've tried on the peninsula.
     There were two choices for the main course; Cacio E Pepe and Marinated Painted Hills Ribeye.  My dining partner and I both ordered the pasta dish (when in Rome...) and were pleased with both the  texture and the flavor-holding properties of the spaghetti.  The light, creamy sauce clung nicely to the pasta, which was topped with a delicious Pecorino Romano/parmesan crisp, which fell apart nicely when tapped by a fork.  These crispy bits swirled into each forkful of pasta added a rich, nutty flavor to the pasta dish.
     Our last course was a milk chocolate Semifreddo, served sliced with a topping of chopped pistachios, a pool of orange cream and a generous scattering of candied, whole  pistachios.  The dessert's presentation and flavor were perfect.  Also perfect was the house cappuccino.  Served in a large cup with at least two inches of dreamy, frothed milk, Vincent Chicco's cappuccino was the perfect end to an authentic Italian meal.  Gustare il pasto!

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