Category Archives: $$ Modest ($20-$40)

Amerigo discovers Louisville

Amerigo

(Amerigo Italian Restaurant, Voice-Tribune, Aug. 9, 2007)

Amerigo Vespucci, a minor mapmaker of fifteenth century Italy, may have visited the New World briefly a decade or so after Christopher Columbus set foot ashore in 1492.

Yet, thanks to another mapmaker who named the new continents after his cartographic colleague, the Americas are forever known by Vespucci’s slightly altered first name; while Columbus’s moniker attaches only to such relatively little-known patriotic hymns as “Hail Columbia” and, well, the capital of Ohio.

Now Amerigo gains a 21st century connection on the sign over the door of a six-unit, Nashville-based Italian-style restaurant chain that recently opened its first Louisville property. Housed in the building that was formerly home to Harper’s, Amerigo Italian Restaurant has built a substantial word-of-mouth buzz since its opening last month.

We’ve found a lot to like on early visits: Continue reading Amerigo discovers Louisville

Plus ça change at Café Lou Lou

Cafe Lou Lou
One of the reasons Café Lou Lou’s new locale works is the retention of the original look, including striking art pieces. LEO photo by Nicole Pullen.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

The 19th century French satirist and polymath Alphonse Karr was not, as far as we know, a food critic. But when he penned the lines, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (“The more things change, the more they stay the same”), he might as well have been talking about Louisville’s Café Lou Lou.

A lot of us obligate urbanites were horrified to learn earlier this year that Chef Clay Wallace and co-owner Helen Ellis planned to move the popular eatery’s quarters from Frankfort Avenue in Clifton to St. Matthews, literally across the street from where Sears used to be.

Leaving the artsy, hippy-dippy diversity of Clifton for almost-suburban St. Matthews? How can this be, we wailed! Café Lou Lou can’t possibly stay the same! How can it survive in the whitebread land of SUVs?

As it turns out, the answer to these questions turns out to be, “Very nicely indeed.” Or, if you prefer, “Plus ça change.”
Continue reading Plus ça change at Café Lou Lou

We like smut. It’s good.

Bruce Ucan
After a brief hiatus, former Mayan Gypsy chef Bruce Ucan is back at it with Mayan Café, in the East Market location where Mayan Gypsy started out. LEO Photo by Nicole Pullen

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

Smut. Corn smut. It’s a nasty name for a nasty-looking thing, a black, disgusting fungus that turns corn kernels into swollen gray blobs that look like an alien mutation, a sight so gross that the ancient Aztecs named the stuff “cuitlacoche” or, literally, well, “black turds.”

Although cuitlacoche may look like something the dog dragged in, it tastes really, really good. So, while North American farmers curse and destroy smut-afflicted corn, Mexican growers are more inclined to praise Lord Quetzalcoatl, peel off the pillowy black fungus and serve it for lunch. Or put some in cans and ship it north to savvy restaurateurs.

Selling it to Anglos can be a challenge, though, so the few eateries around the United States that serve cuitlacoche (pronounced “wheat-la-COH-chay”) generally describe it with more appetizing euphemisms. “Mexican caviar,” for instance. Or, at Louisville’s excellent Mayan Café, “exotic mushroom,” appended to the Aztec “cuitlacoche” without the literal translation.
Continue reading We like smut. It’s good.

Indulgent brunch at classy Volare

Shrimp and grits
Shrimp and grits: This Italian-accented variation on the Low Country standard is a brunch standby at Volare. Photo by Robin Garr

(Voice-Tribune, May 31, 2007)

It’s hard to believe that Volare has been around for only three years.

In those short years, this classy Italian dining room has shed its original Chicago-based connection; brought in the savvy Majid Ghavami as general manager, and hung on to Chef Dallas McGarrity, who cooks Italian as if he had a vowel on the end of his name (and hey, he does!)

With a recent expansion increasing the seating area and kitchen, there’s more of Volare to love than ever. It’s a personal favorite, my No. 1 choice among Louisville’s Italian restaurants for food, mood and service.
Continue reading Indulgent brunch at classy Volare