Will Minnesota Ever Have a Worthy Pasta Carbonara?

I have a bunch of little bits of news I’ve been meaning to write about, and here they all are, so if you don’t see what you want at the top, keep reading!

New D’Amico Spot:
News was released last week about the gigantic new Bloomington D’Amico Restaurant, Parma 8200. How huge is it? 8500 square feet, 330 seats—huge. I caught up with Richard D’Amico as he sat outside somewhere in Florida and happy parakeets squawked and shrieked, and he told me a few interesting tidbits about the restaurant, like, why Bloomington? “If we keep opening restaurants in downtown Minneapolis, we end up cannibalizing our business,” D’Amico told me, and they’ve been very happy both with the quality of the food and the devotion of the customers out at the Eden Prairie Campiello—a very good restaurant in my book—so he believes the generally lackluster state of suburban Italian restaurants is likely due to what’s being offered to suburban diners, and not what they demand. (Except Bibo, in Eagan, just closed and they were offering high-quality Italian food to the distant suburbs. Hhmm.) The menu at 8200 will focus on very traditional Italian dishes, done right, D’Amico tells me, dishes like pasta carbonara—which in my opinion, not one single Minnesota restaurant does well, so here’s wishing them every success. “Pasta carbonara is one of the hardest dishes to get out in a high-quality way,” D’Amico told me. “It has a very short shelf life, it really has to go straight from the stove to the table. We’ve been limited in being able to do it at a restaurant like D’Amico Kitchen [in the Chambers Hotel] because the kitchen is so far from the tables. But we’ll be doing other dishes like that, and cacio e pepe,” a very simple Roman pasta dish dressed in sheep’s milk cheese that’s easy to do poorly, but very difficult to do well. D’Amico also tells me 8200 will be clubby, dark, and sexy, “like a Roman martini bar.”

In other news, look for more D’Amico news sooner than later: “It’s a great time to put deals together. We’re looking at a couple opportunities to do another restaurant,” D’Amico told me cryptically, both in Minnesota and Florida. “There are a lot of spaces available, a lot of restaurants either on their way out or gone. It’s an advantageous time to try to get deals done.” So if you’re a line cook looking for a growing company, now you know. And here’s a little tidbit to sweeten the pot: The reason I was talking to owner D’Amico and not executive chef Jay Sparks this week was because Sparks and 8200’s chef de cuisine Mike Dalton, formerly of the Eden Prairie Campiello, were off in Philadelphia on an eating trip, checking out the various restaurants of acclaimed Italian chef Marc Vetri. Jealous? If you’re not, you’re not a working cook in this town… Opening date for 8200 is likely late June.

And for the rest of us who eat but don’t work in kitchens: D’Amico & Sons is now doing a whole lot of delivery from seven of their metro restaurants, so if you’ve been howling at the sky and wondering: Why is pizza the only food you can get delivered in this town?!? And you also live within three miles of a D’Amico and Sons, check them out online or in the store. You may be shocked to find that on a night when you can’t get dinner on the table, they are able to get a family sized pan of Tuscan pot roast to you stat. damicoandsons.com

Sushi Delivery?
In other delivery news: Anyone tried the delivery sushi from Uptown Minneapolis’ Mt. Fuji? I’m very curious. They seem to deliver to all of Kenwood, Carag, the Wedge, and Whittier. My husband is skeptical: “I’m not going to order any sushi I can’t see in advance,” he told me when I showed him the delivery menu. But we may try it. Unless you tell me otherwise! And yeah, I know the deal is that I’m supposed to try restaurants and tell you if they’re any good, but, um, yeah. I guess I’m skeptical too.

Mt Fuji
2819 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.

Solo Vino Pink Wine Festival!
And now back to a world without ambiguity: Do you love rosé wines? I love rosé wines. They’re so surprising, lively, fun—I like the strawberry-scented ones, I like the dry-as-Chablis ones, I like the adventure of all the novel things in those bottles. If you love rosés too, or are merely curious, get your tickets now to the Solo Vino Pink Wine Party on May 16. They’re just $25, you’ll get a chance to sample 100 or so wines, pink, white, and red, you’ll get some light fare from one of Minnesota’s great affordable restaurants, Cheeky Monkey Deli, and it’s all for a good cause, raising money for the Jared P. Stene Scholarship fund. The tasting runs from 2 to 5 p.m. If you’re really smart, you’ll make a 5:30 reservation at W. A. Frost’s so you don’t have to drive home after tasting 100 wine. Please note: Mango Thai is also within close walking distance. Pink wine party! Hooray!

Fourteenth Annual East Side Wine Tasting
Another really fun wine event is the East Side Wine Tasting sponsored by Surdyk’s and River Liquor, which happens this year on Wednesday, May 12 from 5”8 p.m. at Nicollet Island Pavilion. There will be food from some 20 Minneapolis restaurants and the chance to taste some 200 fine wines, microbrews, spirits, non”alcoholic beverages, and so forth. There will also be a Cigar Tent where you and your buddies can smoke cigars and sniff and swirl bourbon, scotch, and so on. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door. Cigar Tent tickets are $10 in advance and at the door. Tickets are available at esns.org, at East Side Neighborhood Services, or at Surdyk’s and River Liquor. All proceeds from the East Side Wine Tasting will benefit East Side Neighborhood Services, a direct provider of a variety of human services and basic needs programs since 1915. For more information about the East Side Wine Tasting, call 612-781-6011 or visit esns.org.

And that about wraps it up. Here’s wishing all of us a future with plenty of good pasta carbonara and lively rosés.