Friday, September 17, 2010

Sneak Peek: Italian Eatery at 604 West

I take Italian food very seriously. Having lived in Florence for a semester during college, I am completely spoiled when it comes to eating Italian food here in the states. In addition, my family is from northern New Jersey where every other restaurant is owned by an Italian family making authentic dishes, perfected by generations of good cooks. I have had a hard time finding good Italian food here in North Carolina despite the fact we have so many amazing chefs and restaurants right here in Durham.
So I must say that I didn't expect much when my friend invited me to a West Village party hosted by the new Cinelli's restaurant that has taken over the space formally occupied by Tosca. I was mostly looking forward to sitting outside with a glass of wine and maybe a slice of pizza in the company of good friends. Cinelli's, formally located behind Ben and Jerry's in the Whole Foods shopping center, definitely produces good pizza and inexpensive but good food. This party was no exception, with live music to entertain us while we enjoyed not only pizza but sandwiches of grilled chicken and broccoli rabe on soft, chewy rolls and bowtie pasta with pesto and sun dried tomatoes.

However, it is the addition of a fine dining restaurant, the Italian Eatery at 604 West Morgan, that really peaked my interest. I have eaten at Tosca a few times, always hoping for a great Italian meal in the beauty of the old brick warehouses that make up the West Village. Unfortunately, I was usually disappointed. Now, the space is still beautiful--made more so by better lighting and an inviting atmosphere--but the food actually outshines the space. You know those Italian families living in New Jersey? Well, fortunately for us, one of them decided to move down to North Carolina (Ok, so they are actually from Long Island, but you get my point).

Per a strong recommendation, I tried the Lobster with Cognac Sauce pasta: a healthy portion of perfectly cooked scallops, mussels, shrimp and lobster in a cognac cream sauce over black squid ink pasta. The pasta is all homemade and you can definitely taste the difference. The sauce was rich and flavorful but did not outweigh the great taste of fresh seafood cooked perfectly.

I also got to try Grandma's Pizza, which was clearly made with the love and care of someone's Italian Grandma. The giant pizza fed all of us sitting at the bar and we enjoyed the soft but slightly crisp crust, the sweet roasted garlic, juicy plump Italian plum tomatoes and just the right amount of fresh mozzarella and basil. I love pizza--not the stuff you can order over the phone that's loaded down with cheese and what they call "sauce"--but the real stuff made with whole, natural ingredients and simple yet deep flavors. Nothing beats really good pizza and until you have had some, you probably do not know what pizza really tastes like.

The restaurant is still in a soft opening phase as they work to get everything ready for their grand opening coming soon. I strongly recommend getting in there as soon you can. I will definitely be back for a full meal to get the whole experience of eating there. I have high hopes for this new restaurant and I definitely think if they keep the quality of the food at such a high level, they will do very well.


  1. Hey i just wanted to tell you first of all thanks for the heads up on a new downtown eating spot! But more importantly - i "googled" Itlian Eatery at 604... and guess what?? your blog/website came up at the top of the search list - 5th i think! I don't know much about these things but i think that's pretty cool - right?!

  2. Wow, that is cool! Thanks for letting me know!

  3. Be interesting to hear more reports as the space looks good for a big dinner party.