Let me start by writing that I have not dined in a restaurant since March 10th and the struggle has been real. To not have the dining out experience of being waited on, to chat it up while my food is being prepared, to have someone check on me and see if all is well is a luxury that I have truly missed.
Going out today to North Italia in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania was like going out on a first date. I was overly excited, slightly giddy, and a tad nervous. The idea of being waited on by people in mask, how would it all go down is what I whispered to myself. I mean under a pre-Covid situation to be confronted with multiple persons with gloves and masks would look like a highjack situation that I clearly was not going to make it out of unscathed. But now here we are in the midst of a Covid society and to see only eyeballs and foreheads is the way we operate in this new normal.
So how does a restaurant function in this wonky environment and how does the restaurant not only build that food connection, but the personal connection that speaks you are safe here, you are welcome here, and you will be satisfied? Well you do it the North Italia way thats how. You welcome people with such a warm greeting that somehow we see the smile hidden behind the mask. Yes they are wearing gloves, but they are showing that cleanliness doesnt mean less engagement. The inflection in the waitresses voice displayed that she was happy to see me as I was her and we never even met. She approached us with an attitude that screamed North Italia knows you could have stayed home and cooked, but we appreciate you taking the time out to trust us with your dining experience.
So first up on the menu was the White Truffle Garlic Bread, just writing it causes me to salivate. It is always a treat when bread comes to the table, but it is something loving about the bread when its hot, when its thick cut, when it lightly toasted so the edges are crispy and the center is warm and chewy, when it is lightly flavored with garlic, and the accoutrement of trufle takes you to a delightfully savory place that your tongue will be forever grateful for.
Second on the dining table was the Grilled Cauliflower. Now I like to think of cauliflower as the quintessential adult vegetable. I mean it doesn’t hold the beauty that broccoli carries, yet you eat it because although its not as vibrant as its sister broccoli it has the ability to grab hold of flavors broccoli can only dream of. And so when you add a fried egg atop for creaminess, pancetta cream for texture and saltiness, breadcrumb for a slight grittiness, what you have is a stroke of genius in a cast-iron bowel.
Last up, house recipe Bolognese. In case you were wondering it seems to me that when they write “house recipe” that means that the ingredients are top secret and can only be shared with someone super cool like Dr. Fauci or something. Nonetheless my tastebuds tell me the beef and maybe some pork for fat flavor had cubed carrots, fennel, super ripe tomatoes, a hint of sweetness, and plethora of other flavors that needed nothing to be added other than my fork.
North Italia is so confident in the flavor profiles that salt and pepper were not even on the table, neither did they offer it. No one came by to offer extra cheese, because the amount present in the pasta landed on perfection. The pasta was so delicate, so light, so airy, the meal left me satisfied, but not so full I felt compelled to push the car home.
North Italia you checked all the boxes during this Covid dining experience, you were safety first, you were compliant to all cleanliness rules, your service was pleasing, and your food was delectable. Well done North Italia, well done!!