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    Dining Review – Assaggio’s Italian Restaurant in Raleigh, N.C.

    IMG_2273Recently out shopping for furniture near our new home in North Carolina, we followed a recommendation and stopped in at Assaggio’s Italian Restaurant, in Raleigh, N.C., for a late lunch.? The restaurant is located at the back of a small plaza, tucked away a little, so be careful not to miss it.? It was pretty much empty in the middle of the afternoon, so we walked in and had the bar to ourselves.

    Inside the restaurant, the atmosphere is halfway elegant, halfway take out Italian.? The bar is inviting, there are a good number of tables in the main dining room, and the order and takeout counter is in front of you.? The dessertIMG_2266 cabinet is also right in front of you, and they all looked amazing.? To each side you see wine bottles on shelves, which we always like.? Overall it is warm and inviting.

    The restaurant was established in 2004, by a guy from New York.? Our bartender/server on this day was also a New York transplant, and from his account that is the theme here – a bunch of guys from New York serving great Italian food.

    Perfect Calamari

    Perfect Calamari

    We ordered some fried calamari and ceasar salads, Cheri’s with chicken and mine with grilled shrimp.? While not the most complex dishes in the world, staples like these are often a good way to gage a restaurant.? If they get the basics done right, they likely do most things right.? The calamari was pretty perfect, light and golden, fried to perfection and not greasy in any way.? It was served with their red sauce, and that was tangy and rich.? The salads were crisp, the chicken cooked well, and the shrimp cooked perfectly, with enough seasoning to make them flavorful, but not overpowering them.? Simple, done well, and a very promising start.

    We weren’t diving into the dinner entrees on this visit, but we did reach into the desert bar for a slice of Tiramisu.? Aside from being huge, it was light and airy, with clean flavors.? Add in a very good cup of coffee and this was an excellent lunch.

    For wine we both had the 2016 Barrel Burner Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles.? While not on their normal list, this probably

    2016 Barrell Burner Cab - excellent!

    2016 Barrell Burner Cab – excellent!

    should be.? A dark, reddish purple wine, this had lots of dark fruits, a touch of floral notes, some spice and oak, but the fruit dominates.? Sweet tannins and good balance make for an excellent wine.? Good value too as it retails in the $15 range.

    Delectable and HUGE Tiramisu

    Delectable and HUGE Tiramisu

    Speaking of wine, Assaggio’s has a shortish wine list, but it is well thought out, with Italian forming the majority but selections from around the world providing a varied and interesting group of options.? On Tuesday’s bottles are half price, and that includes all of them.? So you can get a Barolo, Brunello or Amarone for $35, at a restaurant with your dinner.? That’s fairly amazing.

    We plan to head back for dinner sometime, try the more traditional Italian entrees including the pizza, and grab that bottle of Barolo.? We recommend you do as well, as you can get everything from a New York style pizza to a bowl of Zuppa di Pesce.? Our wallet is out for Assaggio’s.

    The particulars:

    Assaggio’s Italian Restaurant

    3501 West Millbrook Road,? Raleigh,? N.C. ? 27613

    919-785-2088

    Website:?http://www.assaggios-nc.com/index.aspx

    Open 7 days a week

    A votre santé!

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