Il Gatto — May 28, 2010

1 06 2010

Il Gatto
3001 Hennepin Avenue

Memorial Day weekend had freshly begun, and Uptown was active with patrons out to celebrate the start of summer – spilling onto lively patios, rushing through the crowded sidewalks, and dancing to the tunes drifting out of every venue. Anxious to show out-of-town company a tasty meal in such a bumping area, we tumbled into Il Gatto to see what the new spot in Uptown’s cornerstone was all about. 

We walked past the front room – a tall area with people crowding the bar, sipping drinks at high tables, or dining next to windows with a Lake Street view – and were led to the quieter dining area in back. The ambiance had potential, but our corner booth near the doorway between the restaurant’s two areas gave us little to see. 

Herb-infused olive oil with a splash of balsamic vinegar

The appetizers arrived in short time, along with a basket of thick bread slices and herb-infused olive oil. We all sampled the Fritto Misto Platter – a combination of lightly battered and fried seafood and vegetables, such as shrimp, mussels, zucchini and asparagus – with warm, tangy marinara sauce and chilled chipotle mayo. Even better was the Wood Grilled Octopus. Though the portion was small, the tentacle lay over a fresh chickpea, onion and cilantro salad with limincello vinaigrette and was so tasty that it was gone in a matter of moments. The meat was firm yet moist, and carried a delightful smoky, roasted flavor. 

Jim ordered the Tortellini dish and found it to have more flavor than usual alfredo entrees. The pasta was mixed with prosciutto, peas and mushrooms without becoming soggy, and was just as filling as one would expect. My Watermelon Salad was new to the menu – four grilled shrimp lined atop a bed of spinach mixed with pistachios, watermelon chunks, mint leaves and feta crumbles. A salad so refreshing, with a creative mixture of ingredients, seemed the only way to adequately mark the season’s start. 

Thanks to our generous tablemates, we also tried a few nibbles of Il Gatto’s pizza. The crispy pepperoni wasn’t unique, but didn’t disappoint, while the spicy sausage pizza had a welcomed kick from both the house-made meat and added jalapenos. 

Tortellini next to Il Gatto's homemade-sausage pizza

The evening finished with an enormous helping of tiramisu. Piled nearly 10 inches high, the dessert was perfectly chilled and looked enticing. To our disappointment, it simply tasted like vanilla cake with whipped cream layers. With nothing special about it, we’d skip dessert next time around and order one of the bar’s crafty potions instead. 

Aside from the far-reaching cat theme played throughout the experience, Il Gatto was a fun place to start a night in Uptown and is likely a great cocktail stop for an evening without dinner. It was on par with our expectations: not rising above, but providing a fun atmosphere with some interesting food to taste. Nine lives or one, we’d give it another shot. 

RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Ambiance/Environment: ♠♠♠
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠1/2
Service: ♠♠♠

Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠♠

Total bill: someone else’s treat!

Il Gatto Uptown Italian on Urbanspoon




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