Monday, September 19, 2011

Restaurant Review :: La Grolla

This Friday my sister came into town from Chicago.  We wanted to go out for a family dinner Friday evening, and in order to kill three birds with one stone (blog, dinner with the fam, carbs for Saturday's run), I suggested La Grolla on Selby Avenue in St. Paul.  I've been to La Grolla a handful of times and it's probably my favorite Italian restaurant in St. Paul.  It's a smaller restaurant, with tables tucked into corners, understated decor, and big windows that welcome in a lot of natural light.  Because of its space, La Grolla is both intimate and bustling, and it would be the perfect setting for any lunch or dinner.
But you can't talk Italian without talking about the menu.  La Grolla has a diverse dinner menu, with dishes ranging from the classic cappellini pomodoro (my favorite) to a Norwegian salmon stuffed with crab and lemon/chive sauce.  In addition to the menu staples, the chef whips up a plethora of nightly features.  Our server mentioned at least a half of a dozen specials, including osso bucco (a veal shank stewed for hours).  It's not the most vegetarian-friendly menu, but the pasta is so tasty that I keep coming back for more.  There are a few menu items that I have in my La Grolla rotation, and all of them are perfectly wonderful. 

My mom and I started out with small salads -- I got the "fresca" salad, complete with veggies and a light vinaigrette, and my mom tried out the salad with pears and Roquefort cheese.  Both were fresh and tasty, but I had to give my mom's salad the edge just for the combo of flavors and use of amazing cheese.  Yum.

For my main course, I opted for the penne vodka.  The penne was perfectly cooked to al dente so it still had a bit of a bite to it.  And the sauce was lovely.  Creamy with a hint of tomato sweetness but not at all heavy or overpowering.  Think of a light pink Alfredo sauce without all of the guilt!  With some extra Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of pepper, this dish was spot on.  The portion size was absolutely giant sized, so I get to enjoy my penne vodka again this weekend.  (I'm trying not to think about it while I type this out.....resist the temptation....)

I also had a bite of my sister's pasta dish, which was the Cappelletti ai Quattro formaggi.  In layman's terms, it was a hat-shaped pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese.  The menu called for a four-cheese based sauce, but my sister (for reasons I cannot begin to understand) opted to substitute the cheese sauce for a chunky tomato sauce.  Since it wasn't that busy, the chef entertained her bizarre request, and the little ricotta-filled pasta still held up well to the tomato sauce. 

For dessert, we all split some cannoli -- fried pasty dough stuffed with sweet, creamy cheese and dipped into a little bit of chocolate.  I thought it was a great end to the meal -- not too heavy and just sweet enough. 

Overall, I once again enjoyed my dinner at La Grolla.  Great food, fun atmosphere, and good times with the family.  Best part?  When my sister was reenacting a scene from Portlandia and she whipped her arm out and almost knocked over the bus boy.  Good work, sis! 

1 comment:

  1. I blame Portlandia for any upcoming assault charges from the la great-a employee! That food was awesome -- and I loved that they had Deschutes on tap!