Alleia - Chattanooga, TN
Usually, when someone suggests Italian for dinner to me, I cringe a little inside. Being wheat intolerant and making an effort to avoid any gluten at all, a big bowl of pasta is not something I can have out, no matter how scrumptious it may be. For this reason, I waited about 7 months to try Alleia, Chattanooga's newest white table cloth restaurant.
Alleia is part of the St. John's Group of restaurants, which in includes St. John's and the Meeting Place (one of my favorites of the South). For this reason alone, and a peak at the amazing interior which I hear was done by Chattanooga's own Revival, made me want to try it. The reviews I was hearing from friends told me there were choices and to just go. So I did. Twice now. and can I just say.... ooohhh yeah.
Chef Daniel Lindley is doing it up right from all that I can tell. On this second trip, I started with a Pomegranate Martini while I waited for my friends. It wasn't too sweet, nor was it too tart. It was just the way I liked it. Our server was solicitous without being obnoxious. This was going to be a leisurely dinner and I never felt rushed. She made wine and entree suggestions, and even let us try a little of an unusual white wine before we settled on a bottle.
You can't go wrong with Alleia's pancetta wrapped dates served with a little balsamic. They are that perfect blend of sweet and slaty. From my previous trip I also can say the wood-fired vegetable salad is divine and my friends said the calamari is great. We skipped those in favor of saving room for dessert. Entrees sampled this time were the Sangiovese braised beef short rib, the quail with charred tomato and the tagliatelle bolognese.
All three of us raved over our dishes. I particularly was a fan of the quail. Instead of having to fight my way through the little bones, Chef Lindley is preparing it deboned on a skewer. It was easy to eat and delicious.
Like I said, we did have dessert, a panna cotta. It was rich and creamy and oh-so-satisfying, like the entire evening. I love this restaurant and hope to see you there soon.