Friday, April 8, 2011

Panciuto redux

Our first meal at Panciuto was so good that we were certain we would have to visit it again soon. I had to know if we'd gotten lucky or if Chef Aaron Vandemark's work was really that good. Only a week later, we were back. The answer quickly became obvious: the food at Panciuto truly is excellent.

The menu looked largely the same as the previous week, with only a few dishes being completely new, but everything except the two desserts--both again excellent--had changed in small but important ways. The bruschetta used different greens and cheese and though delicious was definitely different from its predecessor. Topping the carpaccio this time were fried oysters, a touch I expected to hate. I'm really not an oyster person, but I had to try them just to see what Vandemark would do. I'm very glad I did. The oysters were the best I've ever tasted and had the mouth feel of foie gras. Amazing.

This second trip included a larger group, and every person enjoyed every single dish. The service can't keep up with the food, but sadly, I've come to see that as a given in local restaurants. It's not that the service is egregiously bad, mind you; it's not. It simply does not do justice to the food.

As far as I'm concerned, Panciuto is now firmly set as one of the top restaurants in the Triangle. If you live in Raleigh or Cary, the rather long drive can be off-putting, but just allocate the time and make the trip. You'll be glad you did.

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