Charleston is a food town, so you do not have to go far to get great food. Summerville is only 30 miles from where we live, but it might as well be Iowa. We very rarely ever go there. Summerville is a suburb; like most suburbs, there is no reason to go if you live elsewhere. That is until Laura opened.
In the Spring of 2022, French Master Chef Nico Romo opened Laura, a rustic Italian restaurant celebrating his maternal grandmother- Laura’s heritage, culture, and foods. This is his third restaurant in the area, The first two being Nico in Mount Pleasant and Bistronomy by Nico downtown. Both are excellent restaurants that I have enjoyed many a meal, but I still saw no reason to drive to Summerville for Italian food.
Then yesterday, we met some friends at Laura as we both had a 20 to 30-mile drive, and Laura was in the middle.
So now, allow me to stand corrected. I will drive to Summerville to go to Laura.
We went for Sunday brunch. The brunch menu is an amalgamation of popular dinner items along with classic brunch items with an Italian twist. Check out their menus here.
Laura – Antipasta
We started with two appetizers to share. The Arancini ($14) (not on the brunch menu, but our server Katie made it happen) and the meatballs ($14). Both were excellent, but for me, the beef, veal, and pork meatballs were spectacular – So light, juicy, and full of flavor, perfectly surrounded by Nico’s Mother Sauce (marinara). A meatball sandwich could be in my future. The Arancini is tomato risotto and mozzarella rice balls (4), fried to perfection, nested in pesto, and topped with olive aioli. I would also order these again. Next time, I am gonna have to try the Octopus – I mean, come on!!!
Our next course was our mains, which ended up being three pasta dishes and the Ricotta omelet. The diner who ordered the omelet said it was one of the best she had ever had. I did not try it, but the roasted potatoes were just what you want in a small roasted potato: Crispy skin with a pillowy interior.
Primi – Incredible Pasta
I devoured the Casarecce “Laura Bolognese” – braised beef, pork, cured Italian rope sausage, peas, parmesan crumbs ($21.00), and yes – I added more meatballs (3 for $8). Damn! This was a meat lover’s delight. And I do not mean ground meats. I mean braised beef and pork ragú that was pure heaven. I loved the peas that popped in my mouth and the pasta so perfectly cooked. I’ll admit that the meatballs were overkill, but I ate every last one of them. This is not the “no tomato Bolognese” that Stanley Tucci swears is the original, but this is by far a perfect Bolognese for me. I will be hard-pressed not to order it every time I visit. Incredible!
Gary ordered the Agnolotti ($22) – lemon ricotta filling, brown sage butter, chili, parmesan, pistachio, broccolini, and lemon crumbs. He chose to forego the Calabrian chili. He is not much for spicy. Everyone at the table had at least one bite, and most declared it the best dish on the table. This pasta is a delicate blend of lemon, pistachio, sage butter, and cheese. The lemon crumbs provided a nice crunch. The broccolini was the perfect addition. If I were looking for a lighter pasta dish. This would be it.
The final dish ordered was the Pappardelle Fungo ($24) – braised mushroom, pancetta, nduja, parmesan, and herb crumbs. And he added shrimp ($8). The diner loved it. Gary passed on trying it due to spice. I tried it. I have to say it was not for me – too spicy. Njuda is a spreadable pork sausage with Calabrian peppers from southern Italy, and the spice of the pepper overpowered the delicate mushroom flavor. Michael ordered it, and he loved it. He gets a gold star for being a clean plater. If you like spicy, this may be your thing.
We all thought we were done. But when Katie described the strawberry cheesecake dipped in white chocolate ($14), we decided to share. Gary and I are not fans of white chocolate (is white chocolate really chocolate?). That said, none of us could stop eating it. The cheesecake was richly blended with strawberries on a vanilla wafer crust. It was perfectly creamy and lightly fruited, but what made it decadent was the white chocolate coating you had to break like an ice cream bar. They also have cannoli and a giant goblet of Tiramisu for the Italian dessert traditionalists.
Laura – Wine
Lastly, I’d like to mention the beer and wine list. Actually, it’s just the wine list since I do not drink beer. First, the list avails broad and affordable “by the glass” offerings. This is a huge plus in my book. Over 60% of the “by the bottle” list is $50.00 or less – that is amazing! Finally, there are some superb higher-end Italian selections among the red wines. Bravo.
That said, the resident “wine snob” that sits on my left shoulder must speak up. Some wines offered seem out of place. The white wines seem mostly ordinary, with two standouts: Alice Verdeca and the Soave. Well done. I also was pleased to see the Caruso e Minini Nero d’Avola on the red list. I have drunk the Verdeca and the Nero d’Avola, which are delicious, affordable wines that are crowd-pleasers.
I know, I know… you want to sell wine, not necessarily broaden someone’s palate. But Italy has so many fantastic indigenous varieties that need to be consumed, and where else can the average person find something new other than through a “by the glass” program at a restaurant? I’m thinking of Cortese di Gavi, Falanghina, Schiava, and Salice Salento Negroamaro, to name just a few. But you must offer them by the glass so folks can taste first. These indigenous varieties and others make wonderful alternatives for the popular international wine varieties. But we have to offer them in a way that makes it easy for the guest. Bring them in. Train your staff. And lead your consumer to fantastic Italian wines. Ok, I am off my soapbox. Let’s continue.
Lastly, I must mention our server, Katie F. She is on-point at every step. She asks all the right questions. And trust that she leaves nothing to chance. She will lead you if you ask, and she gets the job done with a smile, a love for her work, and a dedication to the restaurant she represents. Katie F., in my opinion, is a gem. She made the meal an event.
Nico, I will see you soon at Laura!
Laura is located at 101 N Main Street in downtown Summerville. From James Island to Summerville is 45 minutes on a Sunday at noon. I’ll make that drive again and again to eat this food.
Monday-Thursday 4pm – 9:30pm * Friday & Saturday 12pm – 10pm * Sunday 11am – 9:30pm (brunch is 11am-3pm)
For other Charleston Faves, go to My Charleston Eats