We reported a few weeks ago on the talented characters behind the Riverside Building’s newest culinary destination, Per La Gente. On that occasion, Executive Chef /co-founder Lewis Guarasci and his General Manager/co-founder Charese Borgerson shared their backgrounds and aspirations for the new establishment, while plying us with samplings off their dinner menu.
The vision of Per La Gente is to create a classy and relaxed atmosphere for fine dining that keeps the common touch. Chef Guarasci’s roots are Italian by way of Georgia, and he has sought to combine those influences in ways that are simple, inventive, and delicious.
I’m happy to report that the kitchen has fulfilled that goal in spades. I highly recommend making time to try Per La Gente for Brunch, Happy Hour or Dinner. As Allan mentioned in the earlier piece (and contrary to common perception) parking is a non-issue at this location, and should not deter you.
I strongly suspect your first time will not be your last, as the combination of atmosphere, personality, menu and execution should secure Per La Gente a loyal following in the coming months.
Herewith, a guided tour through some of the highlights of the Bistro menu, starting with my two favorite dishes.
Fried Green Tomatoes With Burrata, Basil, and a Saba Dressing
Guarasci’s signature share plate crosses the traditional Southern tomato dish with an Italian Caprese salad to fantastic effect. Slotting the fried greens in for vine-ripened reds, basil pesto for the leaf, the creamier burrata for standard mozzarella, and topped with tangy saba (a pre-balsamic vinegar), the result is satisfying and delicious. Order this dish with caution: to eat it is to love it is to need it.
Butternut Squash Ravioli: Homemade Pasta Sauteed with Brown Butter, Sage, and Pignolis (pine nuts)
My second favorite sharing plate was a slightly more traditional but no less delicious ravioli primo. The homemade pasta was perfectly moist, and the crystallization provided by the sautee puts the dish in another league from the common ravioli preparation (quick boil, drain, and sauce).
Recipe for happiness: grab a friend, head to Per La Gente, order a drink, and the two dishes above. Bliss out.
OK, that said …. the rest of the menu was great too.
The People’s Burger With Pulled Pork and White Cheddar on a Brioche Bun
PLG’s signature entree for meat-lovers. Like its creators, this dish does not stand on ceremony, and does not mind if you call it a “glorified Bacon Cheeseburger”. Deep down, that is exactly what it is, and deep down it is glorious.
Kale Lardon: Pork Belly, Sous Vide Egg, and Champagne Vinaigrette
Extend your years with the kale, enjoy them with the pork belly. A suprisingly harmonious combination, nicely accented with the egg and vinaigrette.
Soup of the Day: Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, and All Spice Pureed With Cream
Not too thick, not too rich. A New England-inflected winter delight.
Bread With Guajillo Honey Butter
Delicious starter for us glutenites.
Pear Bruschetta: Whipped Colorado Goat Cheese, Shaved Pears, and Burgundy Onions
Earthy, tangy and sweet in perfect combination.
“What makes it Italian?,” we asked .”It is my grandmother’s cheesecake,” came the reply. Thank you very much, Nonna.
Chocolate Mousse With Passion Fruit Sauce and Chocolate Shavings
We said we would only have one bite. We only LEFT one bite, out of pride, and fulfillment.