I live in Minnesota, am a man, and enjoy going to Mall of America. Deal with it. But finding great food can be a challenge. A lot of the sit-down restaurants are tired concepts coasting on the fact that there’s such a large captive audience.
But lately, I’ve really been enjoying visiting Tucci Benucch. It’s been there for 22 years, and for my money, it’s operating at its best right now. Why? Chef Asher Miller’s specials and his well-trained staff.
A month or so ago I had a glorious sweet corn risotto—the creamy, earthy risotto was enhanced so nicely with perfectly fresh, crisp, and sweet yellow explosions of corn. Last weekend I had an amazing ricotta gnocchi with squash and mushrooms. The gnocchi is handmade, and was really nicely prepared. It had a dash of truffle oil too, and truffle oil makes just about everything better.
I’ll admit, I haven’t gone deeply onto the regular menu, because the Chef’s specials are always so appealing. Miller used to be the chef at Wolfgang Puck’s 20.21, and I’m a fan of his work. He’s getting good experience working for big guns—Tucci Benucch is owned by Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants out of Chicago. They are well-run places, cranking out crowd-pleasing, good food.
I liked (but didn’t love) the thin crust, La Quercia Prosciutto pizza ($13), with grana padano and arugula. The raw arugula is such a strong flavor, and was such a messy topping, it took away from the tasty prosciutto. I do recommend the Beet Salad: roasted beets, candied walnuts, pickled red onions, and local goat cheese for $10. This was a great way to get things started.
What I love about Tucci Benucch is the service. When I was looking at the wine list, I asked about the Trivento “Amando sur” Malbec. She told me she didn’t love it, and brought me a sample. She was clearly right. I’m not a fan. She recommended the Pennywise Petite Sirah, which turned out to be quite a nice little wine.
The first time we visited, our server was absolutely awesome with my six-year-old son, making him feel like a king. And while great food at Mall of America is important to me, great service after a couple hours riding the rides at Nickelodeon Universe is even more important.