Venue Review: Rudy's Italian Italian Restaurant & Bar
The Charlotte Observer
6414 Rea Rad
Rudy’s is a bluff and hearty spot in south Charlotte, from its red-washed yellow walls that appear bright orange, to its energetic volume, to its embrace of small children. Gone is the muted, more formal look and feel that previous Italian restaurants at this site have had. Gone too, though, is the subtlety of the cooking.
Rudy Amadio makes a point of traveling the room, welcoming and chatting with diners, and he is an affable host, speaking Italian with the oldest generation (of what I think were three) at one table, promising a waiter’s prompt arrival at another. The round-walled bar and front-sidewalk patio are other advantages, the first both comfortable and elegant, the second a part of the area’s lively sidewalk-dining ambience.
But the food falls significantly short.
The best of what we had was sogliola alla mugnaia (this is “miller’s style”), a lovely sauteed mild fish with tomatoes, olives, red peppers and Pinot Grigio sauce that was handled well. An appetizer of four small artichoke hearts stuffed with goat cheese also was notable, its roasted red pepper sauce a good addition.
Complimentary cannellini beans, dressed lightly with olive oil, come with dinner bread (fine on one visit, a mite stale on another). And a dessert of housemade gelato tasted wonderful (bacio flavor – chocolate-hazelnut – was best), though it was frozen to ice-cream consistency, and the equivalent of one scoop was a whopping $8.
From there, we had less luck. Saltimbocca alla Romana, a classic veal dish, tasted so strongly of sage that the veal flavor was lost, and it was overcooked as well. Gnocchi, a specialty served only on Thursdays, proved doughy and heavy, and the day’s sauce – which included perfectly cooked shrimp but spinach done well beyond wilted (and our server had promised arugula) – overwhelmed with too-long, too-thick strips of sun-dried tomato. A veal chop was thick but undercooked, its stuffing still cool.
Cannelloni with meat sauce was unremarkable, but a Caprese salad was unforgivable: cold, flavorless tomatoes, sliced thickly with fresh mozzarella, then drowned in a balsamic syrup.
Go with the bright spinach salad, nicely turned out with roasted peppers, instead.
Servers are patient and engaging and describe dishes appetizingly. I only wish the descriptions were consistent from server to server. We listened as one told another table about a dish our server had not mentioned at all, a mere few minutes before, and heard three variations on what was in the night’s gnocchi special, and how many other ways you could have that dish prepared.
The place’s strong suit is being comfortable and accommodating. One couple moved twice to get a more desirable spot, and the staff complied with smiles – and were welcoming to all ages. That’s worth noting.