This covid-thang has not been easy for any of us. Small family-owned businesses like restaurants have been hit especially hard. Now imagine opening up your longtime dream restaurant Savi Cucina & Wine Bar, that you have been planning for years in November of 2019. Your thought is, the first couple of months will allow us to test our processes and then hit the holidays. Over the winter, we fine-tune what needs adjusting. By spring, we will be ready to kick butt and take names. (at least that is what I imagined they’d do)
And then, Covid.
If it were me, I’d say, “Just shoot me now!” But that is not what Ty & Karen did. They pivoted, they swerved, they listened, and they made it work. Just check out their website. It has one of the best takeout and delivery sections I have seen. And if I were to guess those options were not part of the original Savi Cucina plan. But they adapted, quick. And I am so glad they did. They are hustling, and they are keeping their dream alive. Now you need to go and support them because you will have great home-style Italian favorites along with an extensive choice of incredible premium wines from around the world with a heavy emphasis on Italy.
Believe it or not,
I met Karen Savi because we follow each other on Instagram. We followed each other because of our mutual love of wine and food. Then she and Ty, and Gary and I all happened to be at a wine tasting at Edmund’s Oast Exchange. Karen heard me talking and figured out that I am the “strong coffee to red wine guy.” She introduced herself as the Savi Baker and Ty as the Savi Somm. She also told us about Savi Cucina and Wine Bar that would be opening soon. I told her we would definitely come.
Time passed. If you are from Charleston, you will understand this. We live on James Island. The restaurant is in the Town Center Mall in Mount P. That means it is across the Cooper River. We rarely cross the bridge to Mount Pleasant, let alone go to a mall – even if it is a nice one. But then I saw that they were finally able to open back up with indoor seating – covid safe, of course. We met a friend who lives in that part of town, and we finally paid them a visit.
Savi Cucina & Wine Bar – The Basics
The vibe at Savi Cucina & Wine Bar is elevated casual. You immediately know that there is an emphasis on wine with the wine tower cellar in the middle of the restaurant as well as wine bottles filling the interior, windows throughout the restaurant. They have outdoor patio seating and 5,000 square feet of interior space. I was shocked by how large it is. Of course, there is a bar in the restaurant, but there is also a separate wine bar room behind the restaurant bar.
The menu is extensive but covers all the Italian favorites (except for lasagna). It also includes seven different Neapolitan-style pizzas. For those with dietary restrictions, you can get gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles on any pasta dish for a small upcharge. They make everything but one food item (burrata) from scratch, including their pasta and all their desserts. The wine list is OOTW! with over 125 different bottlings from all over Italy a well as US and international favorites from premium wineries. They sell 38 different wines by the glass. That is what I said thirty-eight. To allow for sampling, they have five different Italian wine tasting flights, including a sparkling flight, a coastal white flight, a rosé flight, a super Tuscan flight, and a Piedmont classic flight.
Savi Cucina & Wine Bar – Our Experience
We all began our meal with a starter. Gary and Kimberly had the Caprese Salad ($10.95). This is not a traditional presentation as it is served on a bed of arugula, red onion, and sliced peppers that range from mild to hot, topped with a balsamic rosemary reduction. Both enjoyed the salad but left the peppers. I started with the Grilled Octopus ($14.95). Again, not a classic presentation but the most tender, delicious octopus I have had in a very long time. After the octopus is grilled, it is tossed in a Putanesca sauce and placed on a bed of soft polenta. Delizioso!
The Main Course
We each chose something different for our main course. Gary had the Seafood Ravioli. Kimberly the Eggplant Parmesan and I had the Bolognese with an added meatball.
Seafood Ravioli – Carolina blue crab and house-made ricotta ravioli topped with local shrimp and a home-made vodka sauce ($23.95). Gary loved this dish even though he thought the vodka sauce was a bit heavy for the delicate flavored blue crab. That said, there was not a morsel left in his bowl.
Eggplant Parmesan – Crispy Eggplant layered with fresh mozzarella and Pomodoro sauce ($16.95). This portion is huge. So big that if you eat it all in one seating, you should get a free t-shirt. She did not, so no t-shirt for her, but I got a hefty portion to take home. I sampled her dish. It is fantastic. The eggplant is crispy and light, the mozzarella gooey, and the Pomodoro pulls it all together.
And Lastly My Bolognese
Bolognese – Homemade Rigatoni, Pomodoro based meat sauce, and house-made ricotta. ($18.95) I also got a side meatball ($4.50) because one must sample a meatball on the first visit. What kind of meat is in the sauce and the meatball? There is beef, I am sure; maybe a bit of pork but not sure, and 99% sure there is no veal as there is no veal anywhere on the menu. But I do not care. I was in heaven. This is my go-to pasta. I love a traditional Bolognese sauce, and I never get it at home since Gary does not eat beef.
The Rigatoni was perfection. It had a great bite and held the sauce in every fork full. The ratio of sauce to noodles was “on point.” And the dollop of ricotta was a great addition to the dish. But something happened that has not happened to me in decades. I could not finish it. I KNOW. Crazy. And it is not that the portion seemed excessive for a big guy like me – it was just really filling.
Savi Cucina & Wine Bar –
Our Wine for the Night
In addition to starting with the wine tasting flights, we also ordered a bottle of wine. I have a lot to learn when it comes to Italian varietals, so we leaned on Ty, the owner and sommelier to choose for us. Based on Kimberley and my entrée choices, he suggested the 2015 Barbera, Aldo Conterno, Barbera d’Alba CONCA TRE PILE, Piedmont, Italy ($75.00). It was perfect. The nose was full of dark fruit with back notes of wood and earth. The tannins were well integrated, and the acid was magically cleansing. While Gary did enjoy a small glass of this fantastic wine, he needed something lighter for his seafood pasta. So he went with a glass of the 2018 Barbera, Pico Maccario, “Lavignone” Rosé that was part of his earlier pink flight.
No First Meal at a New Restaurant is Complete without Dessert.
Especially when they have a full-time pastry chef.
I chose the signature dessert – Mama Savi’s Citrus Cake (8.95). Close your eyes and imagine thin slices of golden olive oil cake soaked in a perfectly tart and sweet, citrus reduction topped with candied orange peel and blackberries and two of the most amazing two quenelles of whipped cream. Oh. My. Goddess. It is a perfect summer dessert; It is fresh, light, and full of flavor.
Kimberly and Gary shared the Flourless Chocolate Cake (GF) ($8.95). Now close your eyes and imagine this dark chocolate fudgy torte after being swiped through the stroke of blackberry orange coulis, melting in your mouth only to find crunchy, candied hazelnuts to finish your bite. And you get one quenelle of this amazing whipped cream as well.
Ok, fine. We ran out of wine before we finished our dessert. So we ordered a glass of 2017 Super Tuscan, Antinori “Il Bruciato” which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. And yes, we shared.
Savi Cucina and Wine Bar- Final Comments
We sat down at 6:30 pm. We left at 10:00 pm. It was a great evening sharing wine and food with a friend at the restaurant of some new friends. We had a great meal with some outstanding wines. We will definitely be heading back soon because we also joined their Wine Society, which I trust will expand my knowledge of Italian wines. Go to the website to learn more about the wine society. It is a great deal and should be loads of fun.
If you are looking for home-style Italian classics where you feel like you are sitting at Mama Savi’s table being pampered by her family, then you have got to make your way to Savi Cucina + Wine Bar. And don’t forget the fantastic wine list that was recently given an Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator Magazine.
Savi Cucina & Wine Bar is located in the Town Center Mall in Mount Pleasant. The address is 1324 Theater Drive, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464 * 843-606-1856 * Hours are Wednesday + Thursday 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm (last delivery at 8:30) – Friday – Saturday 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm (last delivery at 9:30) and Sunday 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm (last delivery at 8:30) * Temporarily Closed Monday + Tuesday
That is all for now.
Rick & Gary