Out at Tucci Benucch at the Mall of American with Kim and Laura tonight. Laura’s hubby is away for work and we decided it would be nice to give her something to do other than sit at home and cry ;-)
Late this morning, I made reservations for 7pm and we showed up 5 mins early to find that we were given a buzzer and had to wait. Thankfully the wait was very short and we were seated quickly towards the back of the restaurant. I liked the way the “outside” and the inside looked. It was warm and very home like. The only downside was that in some parts of the restaurant it was a bit more crowded than I would normally like but where we were seated it was just fine.
Right after sitting down, the server came over and read off the specials. She disappeared for a short bit to let us look over the menu before returning soon after to take our order.
Kim went with their pasta special of fettuccine, garlic shrimp, artichoke hearts, roasted mushrooms, garlic spinach, lemon cream sauce. Laura ordered the special which was risotto with gorgonzola, asparagus spears, and portobello mushrooms. I didn’t have too much time to look through the menu but quickly made two choices that would probably work for me. I wanted to make certain what I was ordering was boneless and then went with the Penne Porcini: roasted chicken, oven dried tomatoes, mushrooms in a porcini mushroom sauce. I also nabbed an order of their bruschetta for an appetizer to share at the table.
The bruschetta came out and looked great, unfortunately it was the only downside of the entire meal. The bread was burned (and I mean burned) and the fresh mozzarella was seriously lacking. There were three pieces of bread with plenty of tomatoes but not much mozzarella. I wasn’t impressed with that dish at all.
The orders were out quickly as I assume they are accustomed to tending to customers that are interested in getting back to their insane shopping quickly. The portions were MUCH larger than I was expecting them to be and they were not skimping on any part of the dishes. Kim’s pasta special was brimming with shrimp (big and juicy but nothing like fresh). Laura’s risotto was so big I know that any person wanting to have a stomach not stretch to rival that of Takeru Kobayashi’s. My meal was also impressive in size and full of good looking mushrooms. Mmm.
After they placed them on the table they asked if we would like freshly grated parmesan cheese. Not wanting to play cheese chicken like I would at the Olive Garden, I let them stop soon after starting. There was already plenty on mine as well as everyone else’s.
I took a few bites of mine and found it a slight bit more salty than I would prefer but it was very good overall. I was happily scraping the plate to finish it up. I also tried Kim’s meal (she thought it was very good) and found that it was very very good and crazy rich. Laura was kind enough to let me sneak a fork full of her’s and I nabbed one with a little asparagus (I didn’t like them calling them “spears” when they were actually very small bites) and liked the dish immensely.
Both women didn’t finish their entrees and had them boxed up but had, of course, saved enough room for dessert. I had decided that I was going to have dessert once I saw another table receive a slab of cheesecake about 1/2 the size available at Pastrami Jack’s over in Minnetonka.
They brought over the dessert tray and both Laura and I settled on the creme brule and Kim went with the tiramisu. The creme brule came out and was the mostly perfectly done example of creme brule that I have ever had. The glaze was crunchy and not at all gooey. The creme had visible remnants of the vanilla beans. Both Laura and I were in awe of this excellent dish. Kim’s tiramisu was one of the best she’s ever had and was absolutely enormous. She spent quite a bit of time sorting through it all and seriously left a piece the size of a thimble for the buss boy to clear. I’m not sure why she couldn’t finish that last little bit :)
Laura was very impressed with Tucci Benucch and said that we would all be definitely back. Even though it is a small chain (two locations that I know of) and it’s located in the Mall of America, I must agree that it was one of the better restaurants in its price range.
The service was absolutely excellent and we all remarked at how well the server and the buss boy treated us. Our water glasses never passed below 3/4 full and we were always served promptly and professionally. A nice tip was certainly well deserved here.
If you’re looking for a nice sit down restaurant while you’re shopping at *the* Mall, if you’re looking for a reasonably priced restaurant with huge portions, or if you’re just looking for a nice place to sit around and chat for two hours w/o having anyone nag you to death, then Tucci Benucch is for you.