Friday, December 9, 2011

Cucina24 - More Than Just an Italian Restaurant

Cucina24 is a beautifully decorated and conveniently located on Wall Street in Asheville, North Carolina.  Many Asheville restaurants are well known for their use of local farm products and Cucina24 is no exception.  The twist is that Chef/Owner Brian Canipelli uses the local food to make innovation Italian cuisine.  He states on his website:
The freshest seasonal and local ingredients highlight Cucina24's menu.  The farms and ranches of western North Carolina help add local flavor to classic Italian tastes.
It's been some time since I dined at one of Chef Brian's tables so I had a good reason to take my wife and friends in for dinner prior to catching a play at the Asheville Community Theatre.  Since we were early we landed one of the tables beside the window facing Patton Avenue as well as the open kitchen.  Perfect for watching everything - like dinner and a show before going to the show.

Pig Trotter and Foie Gras Terrince
This was the first experience at Cucina24 for my wife and friends so our server was perfect.  She took the time to explain the menu as well as the details of some of the menu items we asked about.  The menu itself is a daily affair.  Chef Brian choreographs the details based on the local products that is available to him that day.  There are non local products on the menu as well but there kind of needs to be with an Italian themed local restaurant.

Grilled Ciabatta with House Ricotta and Gremolata
We chose a couple of appetizers to share between us but I'll admit ordering the Pig Trotter and Foie Gras Terrince with Pickled currants and pistachios ($14.00) was more for me than anyone else at the table.  A handsome portion of divine foie gras with an interesting blend of pig's feet involved.  The pickled currant, pistachios and apple slivers was perfect with the terrine.  I loved it.  My less than enthusiastic dining party wasn't so enthralled.

My wife also ordered the Grilled Ciabatta with House Ricotta and Gremolata ($5.00) which was much more popular with our table overall.  A generous amount of Cucina24's ricotta atop three slices of ciabatta with gremolata.  It was definitely a hit.

Cured Tuna with Dried Olive, Oyster Root and Foie Gras Powder
Chef Brian graciously sent out a plate of his Cured Tuna with Dried Olive, Oyster Root and Foie Gras Powder.  Our server mentioned that he experiments a lot with gastronomic concepts like powders in his dishes.  The olive could overwhelm the rest of the dish if you let it but again this one another hit.  The tuna was exceptional and the foie gras powder offered that extra for me that took the dish over the top. 

Strettine and Veal/Prosciutto Meatballs
Our entrees were varied from a personal pizza to hanger steak.  Both, I was assured, were delicious along with the Hickory Nut Gap Pork Tenderloin.  I ordered the Strettine and Veal/Prosciutto Meatballs ($18.00).  Strettine is similar to a slightly thicker linguine made with stinging nettles, a dish that comes from Emilia Romagna in Italy.  Over the pasta were three over-sized meatballs that were some of the best that I've had in a while.  I love veal in my meatballs but the prosciutto is a new twist for me that added more earthy flavors to the meatball.  What a wonderful dish.  It was difficult to keep my wife out of it!

Olive Oil Cake with Orange Curd and Pine Nut Brittle
We ordered dessert to share even though we didn't need it.  We decided on the Olive Oil Cake with Orange Curd and Pine Nut Brittle ($6.00).  Its a good thing we didn't order more or we would have polished all the plates in the house.  The cake was like the rest - delicious.  We did have one of us get a little selfish with the Pine Nut Brittle thought, she'll remain nameless for now.

Chef Brian and his team know what they're doing and make it look flawless.  His flavors, presentations and expertise is refreshing to savor.

Contact Information

(828) 254-6170
24 Wall Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Cucina24 on Urbanspoon