Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Al Vento, Minneapolis,MN

Al Vento's dining room has tables squeezed together making for a more cozy than cafeteria style atmosphere. The Southern Italian menu offers an extensive wine selection and various pasta and entrée style dishes. Don't pass up on the artichoke walnut bruschetta for starters, even though it might be tempting to ask for more of the complementary bread and butter oil.

Order a bottle of wine on the friendly and helpful staff's recommendation. A busy dinner hour makes for a cacophony of quiet chatter that will bring out conversation from the most introverted date. Wine bargain hunters can come to drink all day Monday on half-priced bottles and from 4:30-5:30 on every other day the rest of the week. Impress your significant other's parents by ordering the three seafood antipasti. Or just come one night by yourself and sit at the unassuming bar for a beer or a wine. Al Vento is located at 5001 34th Ave. S in Minneapolis.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

La Grolla - Saint Paul, MN

This past Saturday was our first outdoor eating experience of the season. One of my favorite Saint Paul outdoor spots is La Grolla on Selby Avenue. La Grolla was opened in the summer of 2002 by Chef Antonio Tettamanzi. His vision of an inviting, upscale restaurant where patrons felt embraced by the Italian cuisine, surroundings, and staff has led to La Grolla's success. La Grolla has everything you're looking for in an upscale neighborhood Italian restaurant. For those who like to bring their own wine when they dine out, La Grolla is BYOB friendly and charges a $15 corkage. We brought a bottle of 2001 Azienda Agricola Montevetrano which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Aglianico. The wine was excellent and more characteristic of a Bordeaux than an Italian. Everytime I go to La Grolla I have to start out with the Cepansante which is Mexican diver scallops wrapped in angel hair pasta, lightly deep fried served with lobster sauce and basil oil. We also shared one of the appetizer specials, duck pot stickers, which we've had before and were great. For Dinner we shared cheese tortellini with prosciutto and peas in a cream sauce and crouton encrusted baked halibut with fresh vegetables. We finished up with some delicious tiramisu and cheese cake. La Grolla is located at 425 Selby Avenue in Saint Paul. Reservations are recommended.