The independent Italian restaurant is disappearing, taken over by chain restaurants and franchises. In Charleston, however, the downtown scene has some excellent eateries to satisfy your pasta palate. When you are in Charleston and looking for some authentic Italian, made from scratch, you owe it to yourself to check out these awesome spots:
158 Church Street, Charleston
Must-try: Chicken Conchiglia
Open: Lunch at 11:00 a.m., Dinner at 4:30 p.m.
Bocci’s Italian restaurant is a crown jewel in the Charleston restaurant scene. USA Today mentioned Bocci’s as being one of the best Italian restaurants in the United States! Set in an out of the way spot just off Market Street Bocci’s is authentic Italian at its best.
As you enter the restaurant, which is reminiscent of an Italian villa, you are greeted warmly by the staff, which is always friendly and attentive. As you are taken to your table your senses are overjoyed at the wonderful smells that waft through the air. It is not a large restaurant, but is very cozy. While the restaurant can get crowded the noise level is always at a minimum.
There are so many great offerings on the menu it will be hard to pick just one, but try the Chicken Conchiglia. If you’re in the mood for something a little different then go for the Tuscan Duck. Anything on the menu would be a great choice, however. To accent your meal there is an extensive wine list available by the glass or by the bottle.
If you aren’t stuffed to the gills after the entree’ and want to get dessert then you must try the Tiramisu. It is, simply put, one of the best around. To finish it all off indulge in a latte’, or try one of their chocolate martinis!
Bocci’s is a great little Italian bistro, and there’s usually not a long wait to be seated. If you visit Charleston, and love Italian, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to give Bocci’s a try.
(2) Al Di La
25 Magnolia Road, Charleston
Must-try: Pan-roasted duck breast with peaches
Open: Tuesday – Saturday. Lunch from 11:00 – 3:00, Dinner from 4:00 – 10:00
A wonderful restaurant specializing in Northern Italian fare, Al Di La is a favorite of both locals and visitors. Nestled in a small shopping plaza off Highway 17 west of the Ashley the restaurant is always packed for dinner, especially on the weekends. You would do well to call ahead for a reservation.
The staff is friendly and happy to see you. The dining room is spacious, inviting,and well-appointed. The tables are large and roomy so you have plenty of room to eat, unlike some restaurants where the tables are so small you barely have room for the plates and glasses. Call me quirky but I love a big table when I eat.
The menu is a diverse lineup of some of the most incredible Italian dishes you can find anywhere. The pan-roasted duck breast with peaches is divine. Not into duck? Try the asparagus risotto with seared sea scallops. If you want some good old-fashioned pasta then you definitely need to order the fettuccine bolognese.
If you like a glass of wine with your meal the offerings are substantial. If wine isn’t your thing then they offer the regular fare (soda-pop, tea, coffee, etc.). The dessert offerings change on a nightly basis so ask the server about their dolci offerings.
(3) Fulton Five
5 Fulton Street, Charleston
Must-try: Filleto d’Espresso
Open: Monday – Thursday, 5:30 – 9:00; Friday – Saturday 5:30 – 10:00
Set just off King Street in downtown Charleston Fulton Five is nestled in it’s own little niche on Fulton Street. Named the most romantic restaurant for thirteen years running Fulton Five is a wonderful spot for that special date, landmark anniversary or if you just have an itch for something especially cozy and enchanting.
Specializing in Northern Italian Fulton Five uses fresh, local ingredients for their dishes. The menu changes seasonally so be sure to check out their menu online before you go.
The atmosphere is distinct, rustic Italian. While this is fine dining at its best the atmosphere has an understated elegance without being pretentious. When you enter the establishment it feels like you are home for dinner. The staff is ready to attend to your every need and is continually checking to ensure your needs are being met.
The offerings on the menu are not your every day Italian fare. The artists in the kitchen are masters of the Italian cuisine and their dishes are inspired. The Filleto d’Espresso is a symphony of culinary genius that you simply must try. If you are looking for pasta elevated to brilliant heights then order the Astice Spaghetti, served with lobster claw meat, peppers, and corn in a delectable lobster-cream sauce.
As would be expected with a restaurant of this caliber the wine list is excellent and extensive. The staff has several years of experience with wines so if you’re unsure of what to choose they are more than willing to assist you in your selections.
That wraps up this culinary excursion to great Italian food. Even if you aren’t crazy about pasta these restaurants offer pasta dishes that are unlike what you’re used to seeing. Forget spaghetti and sauce, don’t even consider fettuccine alfredo. The offerings these eateries have cooked up (pun intended) are inspired and imaginative. If you just aren’t into pasta that’s alright. Have the duck, or the veal, or any of the other non-pasta dishes that are available. You owe it to yourself!