Though only open for a few weeks, the new Italian Market on Washington, has already received top marks from reviewers of every level. She Eats and I adventured over to Raia's Italian Market on Sunday to give it a whirl.
A few things to note:
-- There is no sign out front yet (Marketing 101?), but the windows are filled with all things Italian-esque.
-- This is both restaurant and Italian market; the market selection is limited, but intriguing. Mmmm, cheese!
-- Though Italian by trade, there is a certain Cajun connection (Cajun pizza, New Orleans pasta, shrimp po’ boys, and more).
-- Service was downright refreshing. The entire staff was friendly and outgoing. Which was good. Since I had a jabillion questions.
We started with the “Cakes and Claws,” two large crab cakes and a six (count ‘em) fried crab claws. Now slap my arse and call me gumbo – this appetizer ruled the roost. The cakes were loaded with fresh crab meat and topped with a semi-spicy remoulade sauce. The claws were breaded with cornmeal and lightly fried to perfection. This app was plenty for two people.
Next came the pasta. I ordered the Carmine (rigatoni with Italian sausage, broccoli, and tomato). With no real sauce to keep it together, this dish wasn’t quite to my liking. While the broccoli was done right and the pasta, itself, great, the sausage was overly anise-seed-y, which made the dish too bitter. Sad face.
Never fear, though. I was happy to beg bites off Katharine, who ordered the Corleone (angelhair with eggplant, black olives, capers, and ricotta with marinara). This? Is what I dream of when I dream of pasta. The ricotta blended beautifully with the marinara, coating the pasta in a creamy, tomatoey glaze. And the rest of the flavors mixed marvelously.
We wrapped up with a “mini cannoli,” which is a nice-sized taste for a post-meal splurge. The almond-flavored outer shell was good enough, but the custard inside was what made my heart flutter. Add a sprinkle of pistachios, and then ask yourself why you’d bother to order the “mini” cannoli as opposed to the “regular.”
Raia – 4500 Washington, suite 200.