Mucci's: the soon-to-be not-so-hidden gem
I'm writing this post to let you in on some of the best Italian food I've tasted in the Twin Cities... Let me tell you, we are huge fans of real Italian food (hey, it's in our blood!); we have a hearty list of our favorite Italian spots in the city, Broder's, Bar La Grassa, Pizzaria Lola, Hello Pizza (ok this is a little more NY than Italy but it is pizza still...). Needless to say, we've tried many. I heard about Mucci's when it first opened and was determined to test it out - it took longer than expected but it was worth the wait. Plan on waiting for a table, they don't take reservations in this small space - but lucky for you, The Spot Bar is within walking distance; grab a pitcher while you wait for a table, it could be worse...
First off, friendly tip: you might miss this place if you don't know what you're looking for - but that's half the fun of it. It truly is a hole in the wall, a tiny understated, unmarked brick building that seats maybe fifty - and two in the kitchen. I love the cozy, local vibe – and the red checked table cloths don't hurt.
Okay, let me get to the goods... first off, they have prosecco on tap, how fun! They also have an Italian Pilsner that was made for them by Bang Brewery with a hint of honey - it's quite different than what you would expect from a Peroni but a nice compliment to the meals. I got the prosecco because when do you ever turn down bubbles?
We started with a pizza, well because, we love pizza... and wow. The secret? They fry them before topping them and baking them in their oven. (known as MONTANARA) Chewy, savory, light and crisp on the outside - topped with simple ingredients. We kept it simple and went with "Marge" - Marge did not disappoint.
Marge: pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, chili oil
Appetizer: The staff themselves recommended the Shishito peppers (cream cheese and focaccia crumble). Simple, fresh but oh-so-savory. Not too spicy, great fresh flavor - it's a nice light appetizer that is good for sharing a few bites.
Shishito Peppers: cream cheese, focaccia crumble (Fritti)
We of course had to order a side of bread - they have a focaccia, nice for soaking up the red sauce but we could not resist the "Garlic Montanara" bread which is prepared just like the pizza dough. Oh man this is a game changer - it may not soak up as well but is well worth it due to it's chewy, buttery, flaky self.
Garlic Montanara: butter, parsley
Pasta. You must get pasta, I mean who doesn't order pasta at an Italian joint? They make their own pasta in house. We went with classics: Spaghetti & Meatballs and Lasagne Mucci. Nothing over the top or crazy about these recipes but the thick homemade pasta and flavorful meat sauces make you want to close your eyes and just capture that moment for more than just a few seconds... Simple, classic Italian cuisine - I appreciate the basics, there's nothing better than a home made plate of red sauce. We also had a non-red sauce entree - for all you vegetarians out there or those of you looking for a lighter spring/summer dish, this is for you. The Caserecce is almost like a "green" ravioli stuffed with chevre and tossed in hints of peas and mint - a great summer dish with light flavors.
Spaghetti: Mucci’s sauce, meatballs, locatelli
Lasagne Mucci: layers of love
Caserecce: carrot, sweet pea, mint, basil
No dessert for us, we practically rolled out of there with our full but satisfied stomachs... I wish I had room for the Tiramisu. I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb and say that anything on this menu is a safe... but I'm partial to the classics, and this is the perfect spot to indulge in some favorites. Plan a date night and cozy up to a plate of pasta... and or that fried pizza – oops, I'm drooling again.
Mucci's Italian 786 Randolph Ave. St. Paul, MN