Restaurant Review : Piccolo

As some of you know, my husband Jon and I recently moved back to Minneapolis after having lived in Central Pennsylvania for two years. Before leaving for Pennsyltucky, as this part of the country is also affectionately known, I was a member of the Gourmet Dinner Club (GDC). And even though the remaining GDC members replaced me with the irreplaceable Mike (the guy once made a chess pieces out of food!), they have graciously invited me back in their midst. In the spirit of the holidays, we decided to go out for dinner in the month of December (even gourmet chefs deserve a break once in a while, right?). So we headed over to Piccolo in South Minneapolis. I had never been there but fell in love with the interior. It’s a tiny, cozy restaurant with two small dining rooms separated by the kitchen. As we were seated in the back room, we had to walk through the kitchen and got a little peek at what the chefs were brewing that night. It looked good.

Piccolo’s menu consists of a couple dozen of small plates and our waitress told us the average number of plates per person is 3-5. We were also told it’s difficult to share one plate with five people, but we managed to do this and even have leftovers (which we then split into another five portions and some leftover so no one was eating the last bite. This is Minnesota, after all.). The menu was quite intriguing with many plates combining meat and fish. For example, one plate was called “Tuna collar and beef short rib pave with collard greens, smoked cippolini onions and Meyer lemons.” Now, I’m not the kind of girl that naturally gravitates toward meat and fish on the same plate (I know steak and shrimp is a common combination but I still find it odd to see a (piece of) cow and some shrimp hanging out on my plate together.) Despite my hesitation, by far my most favorite plate was “Sea scallops with chanterelles, Brussels sprouts and chorizo.”

Other favorites were “Fried duck egg with charcoal grilled pork belly, kimchee and fried rice” and “Flat iron steak with king crab, garlic toast, cauliflower and white anchovies.”

By far the biggest disappointment was the “Chocolate terrine with roasted peanuts, smoked sea salt and house made marshmallows.” Doesn’t that sound delicious, like you would want to eat it by the bucketful? Amanda had already scoped it out before we had even ordered wine but when we finally got to the dessert plates, this was our least favorite. It was beautifully plated but the terrine was not chocolaty enough nor was the texture right (perhaps it was the right texture for a terrine but we didn’t care for it much). It was kinda chewy and way to dense for something that doesn’t taste like chocolate.

Fortunately, there was also the “Roasted bananas in brick with chocolate cream, currants and chestnut granola.” This was the kind of chocolate cream that you do want to eat by the bucketful. Sadly, we received only a tablespoon of it (which, of course, we still managed to split into five portions).

I would certainly recommend Picollo, if only for its cozy atmosphere. Most of the plates were delicious and inspiring to aspiring chefs (although they change their menu regularly and you probably won’t be able to get these plates anymore). My main critique would be that with some of the plates, they tried too hard and missed the mark in terms of taste (when there’s chocolate in the title, you need to make sure it tastes like chocolate). Overall, it was a great dinner with great company. It is certainly wonderful to be back in Minnesota, be able to discover new neighborhoods and restaurants and, above all, catch up with old friends and make new ones.


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