Asheville’s experienced a wave of new restaurant openings lately, and they’re getting lots of well deserved press. But what about those favorites that have been serving great food in Asheville for years?
Cucina24 is one of which I speak. Chef/Owner Brian Canipelli has been welcoming locals and visitors to his open-kitchen (cucina) since 2008.
I say open-kitchen because the business end here is the very open kitchen just beyond the bar pictured above.
Fresh wood-fired-oven baked bread was cooling on the counter when I stopped in for lunch last week. Sitting at this counter, when it’s clear of fresh-baked bread, gets you a a ring-side seat for watching kitchen action. There’s a good view from many tables in the dining room, too.
Cucina24 decor is sleek-casual. There’s the textured brick wall with what looks like a faded ad, hinting that it might have been an exterior wall at some point in history.
There are the curved bulkheads, tile, brick and wood finishes, and lots of wood left exposed (no table cloths). Love the rows of seasonings and ingredients on the kitchen wall. Don’t know if they’re actually color-coded to go with the earthy color scheme, but they do.
Black chairs from the front door to the bar, then switching to brown in the main dining area draws your eye and adds a little weight and sophistication.
You know how I fuss about low light for picture taking in restaurants? This time I thought I’d be so smart and sit right by a big window on this very sunny day. Too much light! I’m looking forward to taking a photography class this coming semester.
Offered on the menu in $5 or $10 portions, this salad ($5) was made with local baby greens, roasted pears, pecans and Pantaleo (goat) cheese, drizzled with a shallot & thyme vinaigrette. Loved the cheese and that the pear was roasted just enough to retain crunch. The vinaigrette pulled it all together wonderfully.
How often do you see a Golden Beet Sandwich ($9) on a menu? Actually, this brings me to an interesting aspect of Cucina24’s menu. Items are not named, just listed under categories: antipasti, salad, sandwiches. It works on their lunch menu (see below) because there are so few items. If it were an extensive menu, a lot of reading prior to ordering would be required.
A BLT, but not. You could call it a BAB – Bacon, Arugula and Beet. Add goat cheese and Lusty Monk mustard and there it is. I asked for the mustard on the side so I could control the lust. What a nice mixture of mild and soft beets with meaty, chewy bacon and lusty heat all sandwiched between crusty toasted bread. Loved it! Will get it again.
This really is Chef Canipelli’s kitchen (cucina). His presence is palpable, as well as physical. Chef served a few tables while I was there, including mine. His friendly, relaxed manner added to the “welcome to my kitchen” feel.
24 Wall Street
Asheville, NC 28801