Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

My students always ask during my cooking classes," which Italian restaurants do you like in the Twin Cities?" I rattle off a few and then always mention Al Vento (the Wind) as a really good southern Italian place to dine. However I had not been there in about a year and now have been back twice in a month because our first experience was so good and our second visit even better.

Located in south Minneapolis at 5001 34Th Ave AlVento puts out great food at what I think are very reasonable prices. On one occasion I ordered the Balsamic braised short ribs with Gorgonzola potatoes and carrots at $21.50, this was the most expensive entree on the menu. The portion was so large that I brought half of it home with me and had it for lunch the next day. Warmed up it was even better than the night before. I went for something a little lighter on my next visit, but was not disappointed. Striped sea bass with fava bean risotto and tomato beurre blanc was light and delicious. The sea bass was very moist and flavorful and the risotto nice and creamy. Because I was not feeling overly stuffed, I felt that I could order dessert to finish off the evening.

My daughter in law, Jeannie happened to be with us that night and after much consultation, we decided that we would split the Chocolate Oblivion. I love Jeannie, but the minute that dessert appeared, hand delivered by the chef, I began to regret my decision to share. But trying to be a good mother in law, I did not devour the entire dessert myself, although, I really was tempted to do just that.

Chocolate Oblivion lived up to it's name, the moment the first bite passed my lips I felt as though I must be in chocolate heaven. The pastry crust is light and flaky, the center is then covered with a sweet chocolate ganache with diced strawberries over the chocolate and a lovely vanilla cream anglaise pools around it all. If you go to Al Vento make sure and save some room for this wonderful experience. The only thing that would have made it better is if I had ordered a nicely chilled glass of Moscato to sip with it.

Al Vento will take reservations call 612-727-2724 or go on line at They also do catering. And one of the nicest parts of the whole dining experience was that the chef/owner, John Hunt did come out to speak with us. I love supporting small establishments such as this and I suggest that you try them out too.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

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