This was supposed to be “vacationing on a budget.” The family and I were in Minnesota for a week and allowed ourselves one night of fine, exceptional dining. After doing a little research and talking to friends who live in the Minneapolis area, I decided on Piccolo. There was plenty of praise for this little spot to be found — a Bourdain quote here, a Zimmerman quote there, and awards from every reputable source around.

Owner and chef Doug Flicker began his career at D’Amico Cucina and opened his first restaurant, Auriga, in 1997. After leaving Auriga in 2007 he spent a few years at spots in downtown Minneapolis before partnering with Jim Andrus to open Piccolo. With Piccolo he has created an intimate and imaginative spot featuring seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

Despite only having 30 seats and a reputation as a tough reservation to obtain, we managed to get in on a Friday night around 7:30 via OpenTable.

The restaurant excels in presentation. Each dish that came out was a work of art that could rival the aesthetics of dishes from any Michelin starred spot around the country. The flavors, however, didn’t always live up to their appearance. The potato gnocchi ($9) dish suffered from a saltiness and bitterness, attributed to the anchovies and swiss chard, that I didn’t care for. The hamachi dish ($13) also missed the mark with it’s unique tasting squash blossom, zucchini, and bay leaf gel. I enjoyed the chicken and veal brains ($12), although the skin on the cut of chicken had an odd texture and consistency and was quickly discarded.

On the other hand, there were dishes that were fantastic. The sweet corn soup ($8), one of my favorite dishes of the night, was light and velvety smooth. The watermelon gazpacho ($9) was inventive and stunning with it’s deconstructed and modern look and clean flavors. The tender, succulent, and fatty layers of the Duroc pork belly ($13), with its crispy skin, made me wish they had bigger portions and even the pickled veggies that it came with were outstanding.

Piccolo offers a five course meal for $48 per person that’s a bargain considering the quality of the food. In other cities like Las Vegas or New York that kind of dinner would easily go for twice the price, if not more. While I didn’t find the meal perfect, I would still recommend it for adventurous eaters looking for creative food in a casual and intimate setting.

4 Stars

4300 Bryant Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55409
(612) 827-8111

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