Le Farfalle has been open for 18 months, and I had yet to give it a try. Honestly, new restaurants are opening in Charleston almost every month throughout the year. Some make it, and some don’t because this is a food town and “good” is just not good enough to make it. Le Farfalle came to Charleston with great fanfare, but as we all know hype is not always deserved. So, I usually let a new place get its legs and will wait for the “grand opening crowds” to die out. I will read a few reviews, and listen to what folks are saying, etc. In this case, the hype is real, the accolades are earned, and I should have come here a long time ago. This place is a gem that should not be overlooked.
Chef Michael Toscano has a distinguished NYC pedigree that is quite impressive, so why Charleston? Well, precisely for the same reason as most of us; quality of life for him and his family and I for one could not be more thrilled. New York City’s loss is our gain.
Go where the Italians Go
You know the saying, “go where the locals go.” Making a slight modification to “go where the real Italians go”, and you will see that this is THE Italian restaurant in Charleston. While I did not learn this until late in the service, there was a table of six Italians from Rome at the table next to us. It was their second night in a row having dinner here, and they were coming back the next night as well. I think that says it all.
Le Farfalle is Best in Class & Best in Show
Dinner on this occasion was to celebrate the end of tax season with our dear friend and tax accountant, Steven Clem. (Need a tax guy? Check out The Clem Collaborative) Tonight’s players were our dinner club crowd, Steven’s nearest and dearests. We laughed…, We cried…, It was better than Cats! What a night! Here we go.
We were eight. As we settled in with our wine or cocktail, Dalton our server brought over a plate of Parmigiano Reggiano chunks. No bread needed. Just cheese. Wow, it was a fun and flavorful way to get things started. And start, it did indeed which meant that each time a platter was passed of one of our shared dishes, you prayed to yourself that the final resting place with a few nibbles left ended up where you were sitting.
Le Farfalle: First Course
We then ordered three appetizers to share which included Polpette Alla Siciliana, Whipped Ricotta, and Ceci in Umido.
Popette Alla Siciliana
This is a Pork Meatball with Currants, Pine Nuts, Tomato Sugo and Parmigiano. These meatballs were light and flavorful. I loved the addition of the currants and pine nuts which added a sweet and a nutty component to the overall flavor profile. The meatball is larger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball and is sold individually for $3.00 each which is awesome. That way we could easily order enough for the entire table. This was my selection, and it was incredibly delicious. I could have just ordered more of these and been happy.
This ricotta dish was served with Honey, Black Pepper, and Baguette and confounded us all. The whipped ricotta was silky smooth with nary a single lump or imperfection. The honey and black pepper dazzled the taste buds. This was seemingly a simple dish but was otherworldly at the same time. We were all fighting for the last bite. $10.00
Ceci in Umido
This is Umbrian Style Stewed Chickpeas, Preserved Lemon, Aleppo Pepper. It was nestled in a cradle of purèed chickpeas and served with baguette. Savory, tangy and just enough spice; this was a perfect third appetizer. The three appetizers offered something very different, yet they complemented each other beautifully.
Le Farfalle: Second Course
Some of us made this a fish course while others chose a salad. The creativity in the kitchen continued with the two fish dishes. The Caeser Salad was traditional and hit the desired notes, but the Octopus Carpaccio and the Tuna Crudo blew us out of the water.
The Octopus Carpaccio ($14) is what I ordered, and I convinced Gary to get the Tuna Crudo ($15). The octopus is sliced thin, drizzled with olive oil and topped with roasted tomatoes and pickled eggplant served with Fett’unta. Fett’unta is grilled thick slices of bread, rubbed with garlic and coated in olive oil. The plate was massive. I love octopus, and this was perfectly cooked, then chilled and sliced. The chosen condiments provided the necessary acidity to pull this all together. I am a huge fan of this dish. HUGE!
Gary was so glad I convinced him to get the Tuna Crudo. And I was glad he gave me a bite (or two). This dish is sushi grade Tuna, Lunchbox Peppers (not hot), Sugar Snap Peas and Sicilian Oregano. The peppers and peas were crisp and along with the fresh oregano packed in the flavor that melded perfectly with the tuna.
Le Farfalle: My Main Course
We all ordered a pasta dish as our main course. Of the nine different options on the menu, we ordered five of them as some folks got the same thing. Each pasta was passed around the table so that we could sample each one. All of them were amazing and covered the gambit of desired Italian flavors. The pasta is made in-house, is beyond fresh and cooked to the perfect al dente.
I ordered the Rigatoni Verde – Ragu Bolognese (pork). This was not a surprise for Gary because if there is a Bolognese on a menu, you can bet I order it. When the dish landed in front of me, my first thought was, I am gonna need more sauce. Thankfully, I did not ask for more as I was terribly wrong. It was perfect.
Being the kind, gentle soul I am, I shared my dish with the other diners and subsequently devoured every remaining morsel in my bowl. I would have licked the bowl clean too, but I did not wish to embarrass myself.
Le Farfalle: All the Other Main Courses
While I sampled each of the other dishes, I do not have enough data to provide a thorough description. Suffice it to say that each diner got a Gold Star for cleaning their plate and if the oohs and aahhs that wafted from the table were any indication each of them would have also licked their bowl clean as well. Damn those societal norms.
Fideos – Toasted Angel Hair, Fried Soft Shelled Crab, Saffron, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil * One of the Specials
The above Fideos is on the menu with Shrimp as the protein. Since it is softshell crab season the shrimp was replaced with the fried softshell crab. The dish has next to me and across from me as two diners ordered the special. We were all amazed that the fried crab remained crisp once tossed in the pasta. This was a major wow dish for sure.
Gnocchi – Lardo, English Peas, and Castelmagno
Gary loves the sweet nature of English Peas. This was a lot of peas covering soft pillowy gnocchi. He loved it.
Sorghum Anelloni – Cacio e Pepe (Cheese & Pepper), Corn, Black Pepper, Pecorino Romano
This was Kimberly’s dish. Simple but magically delicious.
Bucatelli Special – Darn, forgot to write it down. I have no idea what is in it, but it looks like crab meat.
Agnolotti – Duck Confit, Funghi Misti, Parmigiano Reggiano
Steven went for the mixed wild mushrooms and Parmigiano Reggiano over the duck confit ravioli-style pasta. Rich, savory…magnificent.
Le Farfalle: Wine & Cocktails
As all my friends know, I stopped drinking hard liquor a while ago. I just no longer liked the hard, biting edge of alcohol that is associated with it. But Tracy was wowing and ogling her drink so she let me try her Old Fashioned. Holy Cow!, it was delicious.
Gary and I have become fond of Gavi. It is an Italian white wine from the Gavi DOCG within the Piedmont region made from 100% Cortese grapes, an indigenous variety from Italy. It is a light straw color with zesty lemon aromas with some almond and stone fruit notes. Crisp, lively, mineral character with sharp acidity and a refreshing, lasting finish. The almond notes come from extended time on the lees (see glossary). ABV 11.5%
Several of the diners wanted to switch to a red wine with dinner. Steven chose the Domain Bois de Boursan Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This wine is produced from a blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah and 5% other varieties (the classic Rhône blend). It is hard to go wrong with a CdP, and this wine was no exception. (Sorry, I have no tasting notes. Just the smiling faces of those partaking)
Le Farfalle: Dessert
We ordered two helpings of the Olive Oil Cake dessert to share. Like the rest of the dinner, this loud and vivacious bunch was as quiet as church mice as we all continually stuck our spoons in the bowls hoping for just one more bite. This dessert was the perfect way to end our evening.
As we were gathering ourselves to depart for the night, we were all commenting on our experience. We were thrilled with all we had ordered and there was not a single “just OK” dish or misstep the entire night. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Everyone was exceedingly happy with each course and beverage. There were no “to go” bags or boxes because there was nothing remaining to take. The service was outstanding as Dalton was always nearby and all hands were on deck when courses came out of the kitchen so we all had our meal at the same time and they were all piping hot. I can not say enough good things about this experience.
Of course, Chef Toscano was sitting at the bar as we departed. I could have walked by but I felt compelled to stop to thank him for such a great meal and great experience. This restaurant is a must for all locals. Parking is easy even though its downtown. And for tourists, when you are tired of Shrimp and Grits, head over to Le Farfalle. They will fill your belly with a smile and a fantastic Italian meal.
Le Farfalle: 15 Beaufain Street Charleston, SC 29401 (site of the former Leaf and Vickery’s). Some parking in the adjacent lot. Phone: 843-212-0920
That is all for now.