Viva Italia at Vincent Chicco's
I remember hearing a lot about VC's when it was first being constructed, but I recently realized that I didn't actually know anyone who'd ever eaten there. Since it's my job to tell y'all about food, I went in and got the scoop (and like 4 bowls of pasta, don't judge me).
Because I think eating Italian food without bread should be illegal, I started the meal with the bruschetta (House Focaccia Bread, Local Tomatoes, Baby Arugula, Olive Oil, Goat Cheese, Basil, $10). Speaking of things that should be illegal, I think this is the best bruschetta I've ever had. The bread was that great consistency where it's nice and crunchy on the outside, but soft and gluteny on the inside. The tomatoes and goat cheese were locally sourced, while the olive oil was imported from the Motherland. Note: if you aren't a fan of goat cheese, you might want to go with a different app, because they don't skimp on that creamy goodness when it comes to their bruschetta.
Next up was the Roman Artichokes (Roasted Shallots, Heirloom Tomatoes, Castelvetrano Olives, Micro Herbs, $9), which were fantastic. The waiter made a point to tell me that the olives and artichokes were both imported from a tiny town in Italy that the chef picked out specifically because they produce the best quality of both veggies. I love how well they balance local ingredients with those imported directly from Italy. The artichokes were marinated and basically melted in your mouth without any of that chewiness that I'm used to from the artichokes on the Harris Teeter olive bar. I'm usualy meh about olives, but these were fantastic. Give me a bowl of these, and I'd eat 'em like popcorn.
The Masami Wagyu (Pickled Peppers, Capers, Parmesan Tuile, Sun Dried Tomato Aioli, Dried Olives, Heirloom Tomatoes, Ciabatta Toast, $11) was a cool take on a carpaccio, but it was a much thicker cut of meat, which was interesting. It was a little on the chewy side, so I was glad they gave us the crunchy ciabatta toast to add a little more texture to each bite. The sun dried tomato aioli was so good, you could put it on an old piece of shoe and call it a gourmet meal.
I'm a fan of every cheese that's ever existed, and the Housemade Burrata (Served With Roasted Tomatoes, Saba, Aged Balsamic, Marinated Olives, $9) was no different. Like a cross between mozzarella and brie, it was super creamy and paired extremely well with the roasted tomatoes and aged balsamic vinegar. This is definitely a crowd-pleasing dish.
The menu at Vincent Chicco's for entrees is split between Italian American favorites like Chicken Parmesan (Topped With Parmesan & Mozzarella Cheese, Served Over Spaghetti & House Tomato Sauce) and dishes that are a little more authentically Italian like the Veal Saltimbocca (Fresh Sage, Mozzarella, Prosciutto Di Parma, Fettucini, $24). Obviously I wanted to be a little more authentic, so I ordered solely off the Italian side. The Veal Saltimbocca was delicious, but a bit heavy on the sage, so be prepared for that.
Ever since watching the first episode of Chef's Table, I've been kind of obsessed with Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti With Pecorino Toscano, Parmesan Cheese, Cracked Pepper, Topped With A Parmesan Tuile, $19) and Vincent Chicco's version was pretty great. Even though the sauce is essentially just cheese and butter, it was very light and totally delish. Kind of like a grown up version of mac and cheese.
Cacio e Pepe
The Sicilian Sunday Gravy (Slow Cooked Pork, Beef & Veal, Cavatelli Pasta, House Ricotta Cheese, Pecorino Romano, $20) tasted like home and reminded me of my mom making homemade marinara sauce. It was perfectly seasoned and not too sweet; Chef Aaron Lemieux clearly lets the tomatoes and the meat do most of the talking in this dish. I thought cavatelli was a great choice for this dish, because it added a little different dimension to it that you don't see much at other Italian restaurants.
I think the Lamb Sugo (Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder Bolognese Style, Tagliatelle Pasta, House Ricotta & Lavender Mint, $19) was my favorite of all the pastas I tried. It kind of tasted like a deconstructed lasagna, if I had to compare it to anything. The house ricotta was superb and the lavender mint was a cool element that I wasn't really expecting. It made this dish very unique and is a dish I'm sure to order again on my next visit.
Even though there was literally no more room in my stomach, I decided to order the Tiramisu (Espresso Rum Soaked Italian Lady Fingers Mascarpone Cream, $9) to be able to give a well-rounded review. I was not expecting it to come out covered in chocolate and cappuccino anglaise sauce, but I was really thankful for it, because it was totally yummy. I think if you're a tiramisu purist, you might not be a fan, but if you love dessert in general, this is a definite win.
I also couldn't pass up trying the Zeppole (Italian Donuts, Vanilla Sugar, Shaved Chocolate, Cappuccino Anglaise, $9), which were basically mini funnel cakes. They were so damn good. If you have a soul, you will like the zeppole.
Vincent Chicco's is hidden in the alley between Rue de Jean and the Charleston Music Hall and is connected to Michael's on the Alley by way of Victor's Social Club. It's a little hidden gem in Charleston, and I highly recommend you check it out!