Monday, March 28, 2011


This Hillsborough, NC restaurant has been making waves in foodie circles for quite some time, but I've never before managed to get there. The other night, I finally did.

Its chef and owner, Aaron Vandemark, was a nominee for the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast this year. After the meal we had there, I'm convinced he deserves this nomination.

We sampled a significant portion of the menu, and every single dish was a winner. A bruschetta with Carolina Moon cheese, maple bacon, a fried egg, and arugula was a revelation, a breakfast I'd eat on any day. The carpaccio was thicker than normal and enriched with shaved mushrooms. The lamb ragu featured chunks of fried green tomatoes, an amazingly good combination. The grilled pork chop melted in your mouth and left behind a smoky, wonderful aftertaste. The simmered collards that came with it were, to my pleasant surprise, wonderful. I'm not at all a fan of collards, but I'd eat these with any dinner. Both desserts on the menu, a chocolate cake and a vanilla ice cream, were delicious.

Panciuto's Web site talks about the fusion of Italian dishes with a southern sensibility, and the food delivers perfectly on that mixed heritage. Added delights include their local sourcing--they source almost 90 percent of the ingredients from area farmers--and their homemade approach; they make everything in the meal from scratch.

I regret not going to Panciuto years ago, but it's definitely now on my list of the best places to eat in this area.


Griffin said...

My stomach rumbled just reading about it.

Mark said...

The meal deserved the applause.


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