Saturday, June 6, 2015

Gocciolina lives up to its hype

A group of us recently had the chance to eat at Durham's Gocciolina for the first time.  We'd heard a lot of hype about the Italian eatery, most notably its selection by N&O food reviewer Greg Cox as the best restaurant of 2014.  Having now sampled quite a few selections from its menu, I am happy to report that its food is indeed excellent.  (I still would not have picked it for best restaurant, but at least Cox chose a strong contender.)

Gocciolina does an excellent job of using mostly local ingredients to create Italian dishes.  We sampled nearly half of the small antipasti choices on offer the night we were there, and every single one was at least tasty, and most were delicious.  To my surprise, my favorite was the fava bean crostini, a rich and flavorful paste on a perfect house-made crostini.  (The restaurant makes almost everything it serves; the night we were there, the exception was a local Robiola cheese they were wisely featuring unadorned, just a small slice on a plate.)

The pork chops some of us ordered were excellent, but I stuck with the pasta, and it was simply superb.  The spaghetti carbonara, a benchmark dish for me, was rich and tasty and perfectly executed.  I also sampled the agnolotti, which that evening were stuffed with truffled pecorino and were delicious.

The chocolate torte was decadently rich and topped with a soft, bruleed meringue.

As best I can tell, everyone in our group was as enthusiastic about the food as I was.

I am happy to welcome Gocciolina to my list of the top tier of Triangle restaurants.  I look forward to going back, most especially to enjoying some pasta on a cold fall or winter evening.  I strongly recommend you check it out.

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