When Sole Mio invited me to enjoy a complimentary dinner, I was a bit surprised, yet excited. Sole Mio had fallen off my radar long ago, because as a food blogger, I’m always looking for the next best thing. But sometime the next best dish is at a place that has history, 18 years to be exact.
Note: They are participating in restaurant week which ends Sunday. The chosen menu looks amazing.
We have just returned from Northern Italy and we know Italian food well. I felt it almost unfair to think that I would compare the food of Italy with the Italian food of Nashville.
Sole Mio, located in walking distance from the Schermerhorn, home of the Nashville symphony, has a great location, and the honor of serving symphony goers, who are rushed for time and want a meal they can depend on. But, there’s a little more to Sole Mio as dining destination.
In a sea of restaurant openings in Music City, many with glitz, glam and celebrity chefs, Sole Mia remains true to it’s roots. Those roots began in Italy with owner, GianCarlo Agnolitte, who opened his first restaurant in his hometown near Rimini, Italy.
While some of the food is Americanized, serving meatballs and vodka sauce, there is much that is authentic, classical Italian cooking. It’s nearly impossible to replicate the menu of an Italian restaurant in Italy, because Americans have decided what Italian food is to them.
Sole Mio does a very good job giving people what they expect, while offering them something new and modern, yet rustic and authentic along with spaghetti marinara.
Executive Chef, Jeff Brown, impressed me with his food view, which includes rustic, authentic cuisine, high quality ingredients, making “food of love, and food of design, which clearly showed through in every dish we ate.
CALAMARI BRASATI pictured at the top.
Calamari stuffed with pancetta and breadcrumbs then braised in a red sauce. This is not your typically prepared calamari, which the chef will gladly make for you. This is a step in a different direction. The calamari is tender, and the dish is a nice balance of flavors and textures.
While we enjoyed the appetizer, I was blown away by the gnocchi, which were composed in just the way one would find them in a Northern Italian restaurant.
When we were in Italy, Doug thought he would have the opportunity to eat more gnocchi, but we didn’t find it as easily available in the places we dined. This makes up for that. Both of these dishes are worth a trip into the restaurant. I favored the white potato gnocchi, while Doug favored the sweet potato gnocchi.
The white potato gnocchi is perfectly balanced, adorned with greens, and pleasing to my eye. I was sorry when I ate the last bite, and had I known how much I’d love it, I would have skipped that second course and ordered another dish. The chef’s ability to take very simple ingredients and artfully present them with style, while keeping a somewhat rustic approach is exactly what I strive for in my own kitchen. However, my gnocchi dishes have never been this good.
These are each half orders, as we had them split the dishes.
GNOCCHI di POTATE DOLCE
House-made sweet potato dumplings tossed with wilted kale, caramelized vidalia onions and spicy, candied pecans in brown butter sauce.
This is every bit as good as these ingredients promise. The candied pecans are just enough to move the dish along, but not overly done.
Roasted veal cutlet rolled and stuffed with fontina cheese, asparagus and prosciutto.
Served with farmer’s vegetables and Glacé de Viande sauce, is stunning presentation of two towers of veal. Although I ate my share of breaded veal dishes in Italy, best part of this is how it’s stuffed and rolled. It’s a touch bland for me, but Northern Italian dishes can often be faulted for that. On the other hand, Doug loved it to the last bite.
The dessert was stellar. It looks heavy, but it was very light, a peanut butter take on a tiramisu. Outstanding and hard to resist. You can see by the presentation, this chef doesn’t fool around. The chef has made both the savory and the sweet, and there is a congruence across courses. This dessert had finesse, unlike so many very heavy or “try to hard” desserts.
If you’re in the mood for pasta, Sole Mio allows you to have it your way, by picking out your pasta and sauce. I have strong opinions about the mix and match pasta, but the customers have clearly decided it’s a good thing, and there is no way they will take that off the menu.
However, there are at least six pasta dishes on the menu, put together by the chef, exactly as he created, including a spaghetti with clams and pancetta, capelletti funghi, a pasta wild mushrooms sautéed with black truffle and garlic, stuffed in house-made cappelletti with bordellaise, all perfectly classical Italian and not found in too many places in the Nashville area. The papparadelle all’ Amatriciana is a favorite (served most often in Rome) and not to be missed.
The service at Sole Mio we experienced was exceptional, but of course, we were special guests. The waiter just happened to be a wine expert, and we enjoyed a few wine pairings that were very well selected. Be sure to ask for assistance with the wine.
Sole Mio is now open for lunch Monday through Saturday. I would love to try the ribeye Philly cheese steak sandwich, which is reason enough for me to jump back over. Lunch fare includes pizza, pannini, salads, and, of course, pasta.
Please check out the Sole Mio Restaurant Facebook page, where you can many innovative and beautiful dishes from the chef.
Mon-Thurs 11 am – 10 pm
FRI – SAT 11 am – 11 pm
SUN 4 pm – 10 pm