Saturday, June 13, 2009

Al Dente

First located above Escafe, Ristorante Al Dente moved to the Ix building in the Spring of 2008 and then was joined by its companion restaurant Al Hamraa in the Fall of 2008. As the picture above attests, Al Dente doesn't have a grand entrance. The character of the place and space makes up for it.

Having eaten at Al Hamraa more recently and knowing that Karim Sellam is behind both places may explain why the food did not have the Italian flavor I expect. The Sangiovese I chose was great. Salads were "in season" arugala. The fruta del mar mussels, albeit a questionable choice at our inland location, didn't seem right. The gnocchi was dense, layered in a thick sauce. It didn't leave much room for dessert and I would have enjoyed trying the tiramisu.

The prices were a little more than comparable places in town. The restaurant has charming antique silverware and a sturdy outdoor area. (too hot to enjoy one recent night) There are so many restaurants in town to choose from, and I can't figure out the niche this one fits in. Al Hamraa, on the other hand, is a treasure I hope sticks arounds.

IX Buiding
925 Second Street SE
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
(434) 295-9922

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