Feb 192011

*** Il Gatto has closed as of 12/17/11***

Cuisine: Italian
Restaurant Features: Bar
Location: Uptown Minneapolis, MN (Calhoun Square)
Address: 3001 Hennepin Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55408  612.822.1688
Hours: Daily 11am
Links: Il Gatto Website * Il Gatto Facebook Page * Google Map

Il Gatto ~ Uptown Minneapolis, MN

Il Gatto ~ Uptown Minneapolis, MN

Atmosphere: Il Gatto is located in Uptown at Calhoun Square (Hennepin & Lake) on the lower level.  The space is somewhat divided into two sections, the bar area and the dining room.  Both sections are long, with booths and tables in the dining room and extra seating in the bar area.

The bar can be seen from the entire space, with fun and contemporary display of liquor bottles lit up on the wall.  This is a good place to catch a drink during Happy Hour or while waiting for a table.

Menu: Appetizers include Pesce Spada (preserved swordfish), Pancetta, Uovo Fonduta (poached egg), Molluschi Arrostiti in Brodo (clams), White Oak Grilled Wings, Tartara Bistecca, Pulipo (octopus), Polpetta (meatball sliders), Gnocco Fritto Con Mortadella, Barbabietole Arrostite (roasted beets), Panzanella, Pere E Prosciutto (prosciutto with pears and gorgonzola), Indivia, and Fritto Misto.

Hand-Tossed Pizzas at Il Gatto are baked in the wood-burning brick oven and include Margherita, Melanzane (eggplant and mushrooms), Burrata (pesto and pine nuts), Pesce Spada (preserved swordfish), Funghi (artichoke and mushrooms), Peperonata (roasted peppers), Salsiccia (sausage, peppers, ricotta), Guanciale (pork, figs, goat cheese), Gamberetti (shrimp, pesto).
Il Gatto has a selection of pastas, each comes in two sizes including Bucatini All’Amatriciana, Trofie (pistacchio pesto with shrimp), Mint Fazzoletti (lamb), Bobolotti (shrimp, clams, crab, lobster), Linguini (crab), Pappardelle (rabbit), Pansoti (walnut sauce), and Cornmeal Maltagliati (chicken and mushrooms).
Price guide: Appetizers $7-16  Pizzas $11-15

Happy Hour:

Happy Hour is every day open to 6:00pm. Late Night Happy Hour is 10pm to 12amMonday – Thursday. We offer a tiered happy hour with $3, $5, & $7 food and drink items.

$3 Small Plates 3.00
french fries, house made mozzarella, radishes, & wood roasted olives
$5 Small Plates 5.00
fonduta, polpetta, & mortadella with ‘nduja
$7 Small Plates 7.00
wings, calamari, fire roasted clams, & steak tartar

Weekly Specials:
Sunday- Homemade Lasagna and Cheesy Bread $10
Monday-  $10 Bottle of wine (10 wines to choose from)
Tuesday- Homemade gnocchi & insalata mista  $12
Wednesday- Braised pork with celery root polenta and rapini $16
Thursday- Braised lamb shank $18

What we ordered: We started with a couple of cocktails; a Margarita and a Raspberry Cello.  The margarita was both tart, sweet and just strong enough.  The Raspberry Cello was a mix of vodka, club soda, sweet raspberries and syrup.  Both very good!

We started with this complimentary Italian Bread, served with olive oil and herbs.  Fresh and crusty!

We also ordered one of the Happy Hour appetizers, the Mozzarella.  This fresh house-made mozzarella was baked with basil until melted, served with two thick-cut slices of toast.  This was very good, it had the light flavor of fresh mozzarella so the basil really dressed it up.  The toast it was served with was also very good, it was dense and crunchy which went perfectly with the creamy melted mozzarella.

As usual, I had a hard time deciding what to order for my entree.  After thinking about the recommendations from our server and discussing with my companion, I ordered the Mint Fazzoletti pasta.  If you’re not familiar with fazzoletti pasta, it is also sometimes called handkerchief pasta because of the square, flat shape.  The pasta was covered with a tomato sauce consisting of tender, delicious bites of braised lamb and Italian Olives.  The sauce was not overpowering in flavor from the secondary ingredients, what stood out the most was the lamb.  It was topped with a sprinkling of fresh mint but it was very subtle.  We both liked this a lot.

My companion ordered the Burrata Pizza, which I also got to try.  This pizza was baked in the brick wood-burning oven, with a nice crispy crust.  Atop the crust was a generous layer of fresh basil pesto, garlic, pine nuts, slices of tomato and Calabrian mozzarella.  Excellent!

For dessert we shared the Tartuffo, a semi-fredo covered with chocolate malted milk.  This was heavenly! The malt flavor was subtle but really added a nice touch to the rich chocolate of the semi-fredo.  The dish was small but beautifully decorated with stylish designs of white  and dark chocolate.

Service: I had made a reservation earlier in the week for my Friday night happy hour visit.  Despite being caught in rush hour traffic and not having a phone on me to give a courtesy call, Il Gatto still had my table ready when I arrived 25 minutes late.  Our server was really good; he was genuine and very knowledgeable about the menu.  Our food seemed to be prepared in just the right amount of time, drinks refilled quickly.  Parking can be found in the pay ramp behind Calhoun Square.

Overall Impression: I really liked Il Gatto and glad to finally have tried it.  They have a really good Happy Hour and the other items on the menu are reasonably priced for the experience.  Service is excellent.
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