Aria Tuscan Grill

Cuisine: Italian
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Maria says…

The bottom line: When I think of Aria I just have one thought…I really want to make it through their whole menu!

My love for Italy and Italian food is deep rooted. I don’t know where it stemmed from but what I do know is that one of the main reasons why I went into International Business as my career path was because we had to learn another language in college, and there was no doubt that for me there was going to be another choice but to learn Italian. It is the language of love after all! ;) Also, it provided me with the opportunity to study abroad in Italy, something that I had been wanting to do for such a long time. And honestly there just isn’t another place like Italy! Well maybe there is, but this country has a very special place in my heart.

So as you may guess having spent a good time living and traveling through Italy made me somewhat judgemental about the Italian food I have in the United States. There is just something that can’t compare to the real thing. And yes, if you ever saw Eat, Pray, Love, that scene where Julia Roberts devours her food, it kind of was little bit like that for me too. In Italy it is just not about the food but also the experience that comes along with eating it. Don’t be surprised to have 2 hour meals! Everything is so fresh and OMG the pizza! Don’t even get me started on the pizza.

Having said all this my quest for good Italian food in Charlotte has been ongoing. Sorry but Olive Garden just won’t cut it for me. It’s OK but not when you want to get more authentic Italian cuisine. So when I happened to stumble upon Aria’s I thought hey why not give it a try. I’ll talk about the dishes pictured first because it’ll give you a visual about what I am talking about. However, I’ll also have some honorable mentions of other dishes I have had because I feel like I also need to share about them.

During my latest visit to Aria’s I started off my meal with their Caramelized Gnocchi. The dish had prosciutto di Parma, pear, gorgonzola, and truffle oil. I thought that overall this dish was good. To me it was just a tiny bit salty from the cheese but the good thing about it was that it was offset by the pear slices included. So hence you had that salty/sweet contrast which I am fine with. This was my appetizer and I thought that the size of the dish was perfect. Gnocchi is made from potato so it can feel heavy and fill you up very quickly if you have too much of it. Thankfully I had enough room to get more  food!

For my main dish I had a Meat Ragu. This was a pasta dish with pomodoro (tomato) sauce and meat. The meat was delicious and so tender! It was that kind of melt in your mouth type tenderness. The pasta was cooked to precision and the tomato sauce of course complemented it so well. I could savor all of the flavors of the food and I especially liked that it wasn’t as salty as the gnocchi that I had previously. I would definitely eat this dish again. And for dessert I had panna cotta (which translates to cooked cream). The panna cotta was served over a lemon sauce which made for a really awesome burst of flavor thanks to its citrusy nature. The dessert was light and creamy. It was also so smooth that it basically dissolved in your mouth. The lemon sauce was sweet and tart. I literally fell in love with it and had I not felt so stuffed I could have eaten some more. I am naturally a sweets/desserts fanatic so this probably had to be my favorite part of the meal :)

The other dishes I would like to mention are their wild mushroom pizza (goat cheese, caramelized onions, arugula, and truffle oil) that I am a huge fan of. This is one of my favorite dishes from this restaurant and every time I go I literally have to force myself to steer away from it just so I can try other stuff. I have also had their Antipasto & artisan cheese (cured meats, olives, cheese, and bread). I also highly enjoyed this and it’s a light appetizer to get if you are planning on eating a primi o secondi piatti (first or second course). It can be a dish for sharing but if you do share it can only be with 1 other person as it is not a big offering of items (or maybe it’s just that I like to eat a lot!) Finally, I also want to say that on another visit a friend of mine ordered a bottle of Amarone wine and she was gracious enough to share some with me. This wine was absolutely incredible! As much as I am not a big fan of red wine this type really did make me a believer. I have looked for it in other restaurants and haven’t been able to find them, so this is a big win for Aria’s :)

Overall what can I say? There really isn’t anything like having Italian food like when you are in Italy. However, I think Aria’s does a good job at giving you tasty dishes from what I have had so far. In my case it is a place that I enjoy going to and will probably go back when I can (it has beautiful decor by the way and it’s also pretty big)! This week is restaurant week in Charlotte and they usually participate so if you are still unsure of which place to pick then you might want to give this one a second look!

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