Nota Bene Restaurant & Bar: Delizioso!

This week we walked down to the bottoms for a delizioso Italian meal at the aptly named, Note Bene Restaurant & Bar.  The atmosphere conjures wine cellars, cozy underground bakeries, and backyard evening picnics all at the same time.

Although Note Bene has been open less than 10 years as a brick and mortar restaurant, accolades already line one of its walls.  Rightly so.  The dishes are equally traditional and innovative.  Both the food and cocktail menus change with the seasons. The service is attentive without being intrusive; informative without being pretentious.

We started our meal with a winter vegetable favorite, roasted cauliflower paired with a Verdant Words cocktail for me and a Troegs Perpetual IPA for my husband.

I loved that the cauliflower was roasted so that all the flavors were baked in, but the vegetable was not either mushy or dried out.   The cheese sauce with chives and chili flakes was marvelous.

My cocktail had some ingredients that were new for me.  I had never tried a pistachio flavored drink before. Nor had I ever tried Cachaca, a Brazilian rum made straight from sugar cane, or Green Chartreuse, a mint liqueur.  The combination of those two liqueurs, lime juice and pistachio orgeat made for a refreshing drink that improved with each sip.

I chose the Buckwheat Agnolotti and my husband chose the Branzino for our entrees’.  Our server warned me that my entree’ choice was a smaller portion, but I wasn’t dissuaded from my selection.  Our appetizer shaved off the edge of my hunger pangs.  I might even have room for dessert.

I wasn’t disappointed.  The buckwheat pasta was flavorful, filled with just the right amount of robiola, resting in a kobocha pur’ee, dressed with sage and sweet grilled vidalia onion.  It left me satisfied, but happy to end the meal on a sweet note.

The Sicilian honey cake with Sambuca toffee sauce and honey gelato reminded me of a decadent French toast.  The cake was grilled and the toffee had orange pieces, adding texture and depth to the flavor profile.  The honey gelato worked in perfect harmony to add sweet creaminess to the dessert. I enjoyed eating until I was satisfied, not uncomfortable, then walking home afterwards.  Oh the joys of living in Church Hill!sicilian honey cake, chestnut sponge, sambuca toffee, honey gelato

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DINAMO…hidden treasure

On 821 West Cary Street, nestled between homes, small businesses and the VCU campus you’ll find a hidden treasure of homemade pasta…DINAMO.  dinamorichmond.com Dinamo is a tiny spot that seats maybe 30 people at once, so if you want to eat there, better make reservations complements of opentable.com.

Accompanied by a fellow foodie friend, I enjoyed the sleek but still charming atmoshphere and superb homemade pasta dishes.

The menu offered a bounty of fabulous choices, making choosing difficult.

Wedding Soup:bread

I opted to begin my meal with the traditional Wedding Soup served with fresh baked bread…divine. My friend chose the tagliatelle with eggplant and I chose the calamari & shrimp with squid ink fettuccine.  Both excellent choices.  The generous portions provided enough for a second meal via our take home boxes.

Now, I must confess, that we both felt duty bound to indulge in at least two of Dinamo’s dessert  options.  I mean, in the interest of thorough investigation an all.   Tiramisu and Limoncello Tart…worth every calorie.

 

The New Casa in Town

Casa Italiana is the new Italian restaurant in Richmond.  It is hidden away in a little strip mall at 8801 Three Chopt Rd, Suite B, just a stone’s throw from Freeman High School. www.casaitalianarestaurant.com

Three siblings, all chefs in three different States decided that they wanted to come together and form a family company that shared beloved old family recipes as well as some new twists on those family favorites.  Lucky for me, they chose Richmond.

Genova Family

The decor has a chic European simplicity that is both peaceful and warm.  The seating is comfortable, the lighting is bright, but not overpowering and the small bar offers a place to enjoy a drink if you have to wait for a table.

 

The atmosphere is welcoming and inclusive.  Kristi, one of the three siblings, graciously served us and told us a little of the family story that brought them from Sicily to the States and from three different States to Richmond. After the meal, Kristi introduced us to her brother and fellow chef, Gaetano, who we thanked for a terrific meal. The Genova family offers great food at prices that won’t break the bank.

I had the Eggplant Rollatini appetizer and a house salad with grilled salmon.  The Pomadoro sauce was on point with its authentic simplicity and rich tomato flavor.  The eggplant was cooked to perfection and the ricotta filling tender and delicate.  The house salad, topped with piece of tender, crispy skinned salmon was just the right accompaniment.

My friend and fellow foodie, opted for the Roasted Mushroom, Grilled Asparagus on a bed of Arugula appetizer and the Caprese Salad with Grilled Salmon.  Gorgeous.  Almost too beautiful to eat.  Almost.

We both gave up sugar for Lent, so we had to pass on the dessert options of cannoli made with an imported Sicilian shell or the limoncello cake dessert so common in southern Italy.  I will definitely come back after Lent…maybe I’ll try the flaming spaghetti dish too.

Flaming Spaghetti