Raleigh, N.C. — Jimmy V's Osteria and Bar has a famous name and prime location in the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Raleigh's City Plaza, but how does its cuisine stack up? The Out and About team checked it out to find out!
Former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano is ever-present in this Italian restaurant. From his image to words from his famous speech - "Don't ever give up" - this should definitely be a stop for any sports fan, especially those in the Wolfpack nation. A percentage of the restaurant's revenue is being donated to the V Foundation.
Location: Inside the Sheraton, but accessible from Fayetteville Street. The decor is modern, upscale but approachable. There is a beautiful open kitchen that allows diners to watch their food being prepared, especially the wood-fired pizzas. Huge windows and an outdoor patio let natural light in and allow for a view of City Plaza. The restaurant really is simple and beautiful.
Menu: This place serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. (We can't wait to check out their Grand Marnier Infused French Toast for breakfast!) The menu is traditional Italian fare with pizza, pasta and sandwiches.
Drinks: The spirits menu is especially notable as you can view it on an iPad at your table. View info about each beverage, ingredients and even sort by ingredients. You can also narrow your drink choices down by saving them onto a list before making a final decision. We really liked their hand-crafted cocktails.
Mixologist Jack Benton is all about creating fun and innovative cocktails. I really enjoyed his "Too Blue for School" ($9) (Stoli citrus vodka, Blue Curacao, simple syrup and splash of sour mix), which is served with rock candy and a round ice cube with a blackberry inside. A beautiful and tasty drink. My only complaint would be that the ice cube was so big that it left little room for the actual drink inside the martini glass.
They also make fresh limoncello, so definitely consider that if you are looking for an after-dinner drink.
The Out and About crew (Kathy, Tara, Caitlin and Valerie) hit the restaurant during its soft opening two weeks ago, and I went back last week with my husband to dine on their patio during Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week.
Here's a rundown of the items we tried and our opinions:
Valvano Meatballs ($7) - two juicy 6 oz. meatballs topped with house-made marina sauce and melted mozzarella.
Margherita pizza ($9) - Roma plum tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, EVOO
Arancini ($7) - Fried risotto balls, smoked gouda, house sauce
We enjoyed each item and could have made a meal out of just the appetizers.
"I think I could have eaten the appetizer by myself," Tara said of the meatballs.
The meatballs were huge, so two were more than enough for four people to share for an appetizer. When combined with the pizza, we were asking for a to-go box!
"The pizza was on a crispy thin crust, cooked to perfection without getting burnt. The kitchen can clearly do these simple dishes well and allow the ingredients to shine," Caitlin said.
Valerie thought the texture of the crust was fantastic and really enjoyed the pizza as a not too heavy appetizer.
For me, it was my favorite appetizer. I enjoyed the arancini during my date night with my husband, but nothing could really beat that pizza.
Caitlin: I decided on a salad for lunch because I couldn't remember the last time I ate a vegetable. I went with the Fire Roasted Chicken salad ($8) with fried goat cheese, which was also topped with dried cranberries, julienned apples and candied pecans. Another simple dish with a balanced and delicious blend of flavors - sweet cranberries, tangy apples and sharp cheese. I enjoyed every bite and would definitely order it again!
Tara and Valerie each opted for the Bourbon Pulled Chicken sandwich ($9). Valerie really enjoyed it, especially the green apple relish on it. Tara had the opposite opinion, trading out the relish for some slaw. "After adding Texas Pete for a little kick, I really enjoyed the sandwich," Tara said.
Kathy: For lunch with the Out and About crew I had the Seafood Cobb salad ($13), which contained half of a cold water lobster, gulf shrimp, avocado, romaine, egg, pancetta, scallions and grape tomatoes. It was a great light salad, despite how many ingredients it had. The lobster got a little lost amid the avocado and the shrimp. I really it enjoyed it though, especially the house vinaigrette dressing served with it.
For dinner with my husband, we had the Shrimp and Crab pizza ($14) and Spaghetti and Meatballs ($12). The pizza was a lot heavier than I expected. The richness of the crabmeat really took over. I liked the kick of lemon in the crust, but wished the arugula was served inside the pizza and not just as a garnish. I kept comparing it to the greatness that was the margherita pizza at lunch! I think that will go down as my favorite appetizer for now. I haven't had the lobster mac and cheese yet. The spaghetti and meatballs were just that - traditional spaghetti and meatballs - but done to perfection! Loved the hearty meat sauce!
S'mores Neapolitan - Marshmallow fluff and cream cheese mousse, layered with graham crackers, strawberry puree and mint hot chocolate ganache.
Chocolate Torte (Gluten free) - Dark chocolate, raspberry granita with candied pecans
Limoncello Cheesecake - a deconstructed cheesecake - really light and enjoyable.
"Dessert was really awesome," Caitlin said. She loved the tiramisu.
We were all fans of a different dessert.
I really liked their take on s'mores - especially all of the strawberry puree. The cheesecake was also really light and a great contrast to the heavier torte.
Valerie loved the torte, followed by the cheesecake.
A great lunch splurge or nice dinner out. You can save some money by doing a few shareable plates with a group. I like the idea of sharing a pizza and having a few drinks on the patio.
Some of the best service we've had. The staff is great and they really know the menu well.
We look forward to another visit there.