Pane e Vino
Cuisine: Regional ItalianCategory: Neighborhood FavoriteLocation: 201 Coleman Blvd., Mount PleasantPhone: 388-8808Hours: 5-until dailyFood: 2 1/2Atmosphere: 3Service: 3Price: $-$$$Costs: Antipasti $7.50-$15, soups $8-$9, salads $9-$12, pasta $14.50-$18, secondi (entrees) $23-$31.Bar: Full-service bar; half-liter wines; Italian specialty cocktails, beers and liqueursVegetarian Options: YesWheelchair Accessible: YesParking: LotOther: Special events; daily specials; www.panevinocharleston.com; Facebook. Reservations suggested on the weekend.
Pane e Vino on Warren Street in downtown Charleston has a Mount Pleasant sibling. Alfred Temelini opened a second location of his successful downtown trattoria a few months ago.
Like many second children whose baby books are filled with blank pages and whose photo albums bear little witness to their first tooth, haircut, words, steps and holidays, Pane e Vino “Mount P” has neither its own website nor its own Facebook page.
It even has a hand-me-down menu. But it does have a new look. It is on a property with deep “Italian” roots, if you count Pizza Hut with its Tuscani (sic) chicken Alfredo pasta; followed by Sette, the seventh restaurant and Italian eatery of Sal Parco; and now Pane e Vino.
The stylized Pizza Hut design has been painted a coastal sea-foam green. The interior has been cleaned, refreshed and redecorated. An Italian flag proudly waves in the breeze off Shem Creek, and the soft patina of plaster lends age and grace to a room that is only a few months old. Tablecloths and candles, Murano glass and Italianate sconces bring a pedigree of the Marche to the dining room.
Reconfigured seating and perimeter banquettes are welcome additions to a room once tight and clumsy in its flow.
A small bar off to the left is a perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail before dinner.
For a restaurant with pane, or bread, in its name, I would have liked to have seen an assortment of Italian breads in its basket. A soft focaccia square topped with a mix of rosemary and salt lacks the structure to mop up many of the kitchen’s hearty ragus (sauces).
Temelini has put together a respectable Italian wine list and offers a house red and white wine by the glass ($7) and half-liter ($18).
An Amarone can be yours for $91, and the regional blends of both reds and whites will please amateurs and connoisseurs alike.
Begin with the well-constructed antipasti: a charcuterie platter ($12, $15) that can easily be your meal when paired with a simple salad of spring greens ($9). Choose from prosciutto, duck salame, cured wild boar, smoked prosciutto or Tuscan dried sausage.
Add the cheese platter ($12, $15) and a bottle of Hofstaffer’s Pinot Nero and you have dinner for two or even three. And this is where better bread could play a starring role.
Pane e Vino also offers the more common antipasti misto ($14) with marinated vegetables, olives and deli-style meats. Not found on many menus around town is carasau con prosciutto d’anatra ($12). This cracker-like bread is called carta di musica or piano paper for its thinness and crispness. It was paired with cured and smoked duck breast and topped with nutty arugula leaves, cherry tomatoes and warm strips of pecorino cheese.
Vegetarians will enjoy an eggplant starter ($9.50) that features grilled eggplant that is folded over buffalo mozzarella and baked in a zesty tomato sauce.
Pastas are the strength of Pane e Vino’s menu. Deeply flavored sauces, rustic pasta cuts, the Northern Italian luxury of the generous use of meats and the Renaissance influence that has lingered for centuries there make eating their richly flavored recipes a treat. It is here where heritage trumps locale.
Pasta can be ordered in half-portions. Served hot, our only quibble with the Roman classic spaghetti carbonara was the missing specks of black pepper, the “carbon” so to speak in carbonara.
A half-portion of “allo scoglio” ($9.25) bolstered a simple sauce of sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and Pinot Grigio with plump mussels, tender shrimp and succulent scallops.
Daily specials also are part of your dining strategy, and at the time of our visit, potato soup, black snapper, flash-fried calamari and a burrata salad were offered.
Secondi ($18-$40), or entrees, offer simply prepared meat served with a side of potatoes, polenta or beans.
A grilled pork chop ($23) cut 1 inch thick was bolstered with herbs, drizzled with honey, spices and almonds and yet was oddly tasteless. Served with cannellini or white kidney beans that had been stewed in tomato sauce and spiced with fried sage leaves suffered from underseasoning and undercooking. There is no way to salvage crunchy beans.
The kitchen spins veal alla Milanese by using the purse-friendly chicken breast ($18) that is pounded thin, dipped, crumbed and crusted, and served with garlic mashed potatoes.
Steak ($31) and cioppino ($25; $40 for two) round out the entree offerings.
Desserts stay the Italian course: tiramisu, Italian-style cheesecake, tartufo, sorbetto and gelati.
Servers run the gamut from the overly chatty to uninformed. Our friendly waitress eagerly got the answers to all of our questions, but that experience pointed out all she did not know about the menu and its preparations. A little pre-service review might be helpful for the newer/younger service staff.
Owner Temelini was in the house at the time of our visit. He made a spot visit to two tables and left. It is disheartening to me to see an owner miss an opportunity to visit all of his guests and spread a little hospitality love to the people who pay his or her bills.
With family roots to the Adriatic seacoast of Pesaro and a maternal legacy to the foods of Emilia-Romagna and proven success on Warren Street, Temelini has a proven history.
His new addition to the family just needs some parental attention.