The hubby and I celebrated a weekend filled with spring cleaning and other various improvements to our little rental house with a quick dinner out this past Saturday. We’re starting to really embrace living just outside of downtown. When we first moved to Charleston, we incredulously shook our heads at the notion that we are no longer the hip, urban young professional-types we’d fancied ourselves back in DC (to be honest, we probably were more like lame, stay-at-home busybodies who only ventured out to get Korean-style frozen yogurt every once in awhile).
Well, folks — we’re embracing our suburbanism now, and this past weekend we visited Al Di La, a quaint Italian restaurant not far from where we live. Housemade pastas and a relatively simple menu drew us in. I like it when a restaurant has focus, as opposed to having pages and pages of dishes that can’t possibly all be prepared with the same high standards.
The hubby and I are suckers for gnudi (pictured above), which we ordered as our first course. I think they call it gnocchi on their menu, but since it’s made with ricotta and mascarpone, I think gnudi is probably a more apt description (correct me if I’m wrong).
Our other pasta of the evening was a duck confit tagliatelle with mushrooms, which I really loved the flavor of but found the tagliatelle a touch tough and clunky. In some ways, it added to the charm of the place. It wasn’t perfect, but it certainly matched the atmosphere — warm and inviting, and appropriately romantic without being over-the-top.
When it came time for the carne, we ordered a beef tenderloin shoulder topped wtih gorgonzola butter and accompanied by sauteed kale, carrots and whipped potatoes. Like the pastas, I found the dish simple if a little unrefined, but still delicious. And that’s the rub with Charleston, in a nutshell. It’s amazing to me, after almost seven months of living here, that we’re still having solidly good meals pretty much whereever we go, to the point where I’ve found myself marveling again and again at how there’s such a density of good places to eat in a relatively small city. Seriously, if Charleston isn’t on your radar as your next travel destination and you care about where you eat even in the slightest, it should be.
And, now that our garage is clean and our house is finally — finally — starting to come together, you might even have a comfy little haven at Casa Del Gravy . . .
Al Di La | 25 Magnolia Road | Charleston, SC