Cuisine: Fine Dining, Italian,
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking, Patio, Seasonal Menu, Water-Front
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 4453 Lake Avenue South, White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Hours: Tues-Sun 4-10pm
Links: Acqua Website * Acqua on Facebook * Google Map
Atmosphere: Acqua is located on on Lake Avenue, overlooking White Bear Lake, just a block east of Hwy 61. Making its home in a structure that was originally a house, Acqua is a small and intimate dining destination. The lighting is dim and there is only room for a handful of tables on the lower level, but each is adorned with white tablecloths and stemware. One of the best physical features of Acqua is the patio overlooking the lake, open during the warmer seasons.
Menu: The menu at Acqua changes seasonally. Small Plates currently offered include Calamari, Bruschetta, Pettine e Foie Gras, Polpette (veal and pork meatball), Mitili (mussels), and Carpaccio (beef tenderloin with black truffle horseradish panna cotta). There is also a selection of Artisan Cheeses.
Soups at Acqua include Lobster Bisque and Crema di Funghi. Also offered are salads such as Caesar, Fried Goat Cheese with Golden Beets, Field Greens, and Baby Spinach with Apple-Pear Compote.
Entrees include Black Truffle Gnocchi, Butternut Squash Ravioli, Risotto e Pollo, Rack of Lamb, Sea Scallops, Ossobuco di Porco, Ragu alla Bolgnese, Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin, Lobster Tail, Veal Chop, Crab Encrusted Certified Chilean Sea Bass, and Panko Encrusted Walleye.
Side items also offered include Brussel Sprouts, Malt Vinegar Fries, Roasted Asparagus and Black Truffle Risotto.
Acqua also has excellent, desserts such as Smoked Chocolate Souffle Cake with Marshmallow and Graham Cracker Ice Cream, Oreo Semifreddo with Peanut Butter Ganache, Butterscotch Budino with Caramel, Vanilla Crème Brulee, Almond Panna Cotta with Brandied Cherries and Dark Chocolate, and Trio of Izzy’s Ice Cream or Sorbets.
Price guide: Small Plates $9-15 Soup/Salad $8-10 Entrees $18-45 Desserts $7-8
- Daily 3 Course Tasting Menu $35
- First Course (choice of one): Caesar Salad, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Baby Spinach, Roasted Golden Beet Salad, or Field Greens.
- Main Course (choice of one): Braised Pork Shank, Roasted Chicken, or Panko Encrusted Walleye.
- Dessert Course (choice of one): Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, Trio of Izzy’s Ice Cream or Sorbets, Butterscotch Budino with Caramel, Oreo Semifreddo with Peanut Butter Ganache, Almond Panna Cotta with Brandied Cherries and Dark Chocolate, Smoked Chocolate Souffle with Marshmallow and Graham Cracker Ice Cream
What we ordered: We started with a couple of cocktails; I had the Ginger Jameson, made with real ginger and fresh lime.
My companion had the Mojito, which was very good. The drink was both sugary and tart, the rum was pleasantly noticeable, and it contained several muddled mint leaves and freshly squeezed lime juice. While this Mojito is good at any time of the year, I can imagine how refreshing it would be in the summer out on the patio, overlooking the lake on a hot summer day.
We were brought some bread and butter, both were pretty standard but tasty all the same. The butter was creamy and salty and the bread was thick and crusty.
We then had an order of Calamari, which was battered and fried crispy. The calamari were cut into wide strips and were on the verge of being chewy however the flavor and texture of the breading was very good. It was served with a lemon thyme aioli that was both creamy and citrusy; light and refreshing.
Foie Gras is one item I will not pass up, when given the chance to eat it. The version at Acqua comes seared atop a giant Massachusetts Day Boat Sea Scallop with a walnut-blueberry chutney and Cabernet reduction. This variety of scallop is very meaty and tender and well-matched with the melt-in-your-mouth foie gras. The piece of foie gras was slightly thin but was cooked to a beautiful brown on both sides. The sauce added just the right amount of sweetness and the walnuts provided a nice crunchy contrast.
My companion ordered the Tasting Menu, which came with the choice of one of a handful starters offered. Everything sounded good but my companion opted for the Cream of Hen-of-the-Woods Mushroom Soup. This was the best Cream of Mushroom soup that I have had the pleasure of eating. It was buttery, creamy, and seasoned so nicely, while having the beautiful robust flavor of roasted mushrooms. It was drizzled with something slightly sweet and was served with Fontina Cheese Crostini. Absolutely delicious!
There were so many tempting choices for entree and our server did a great job explaining each and every one of them. It was a very tough choice but I decided on the Branzino Crab Encrusted Certified Chilean Sea Bass. The dish was prepared with a nice meaty slice of sea bass topped with a delicious, crispy crab mixture served on a bed of roasted red potato wedges and steamed broccolini. The rich and creamy Chili Buerre Blanc sauce pulled the entire dish together perfectly.
My companion had a choice of three different entrees for the Tasting Menu and went with the Pork Ossobucco. You would think that the entree in a tasting menu would be on the smaller side, but this was a full size pork shank. The port demi-glace sauce was rich and hearty and the meat extremely tender. It was served with organic white sweet potato puree that was a nice change of pace from the traditional mashed potato.
We were beyond full at this point but since my companion had a dessert coming with the Tasting Menu, we ordered the Chocolate Souffle with Marshmallow Fluff and Graham Cracker Ice Cream. Every aspect of this dish was delicious; a gourmet spin on the traditional S’More.
Service: Weekend reservations quickly fill up at Acqua, so I wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t get a table until after 9pm with a weeks notice. Our table was waiting for us when we got there and our server quickly introduced himself and was a real gentleman all evening. He took his time to explain the menu to us and answered any questions we had about the dishes. He was attentive but also very respectful of our privacy. The courses were brought out to us with time in between so that we never felt rushed.
Overall Impression: We had heard great things about Acqua and it certainly lived up to the expectation. The dishes and cocktails were well executed and the service was impeccable. Highly recommend the Cream of Mushroom Soup and the Foie Gras. The Three Course Tasting menu with many options for $35 is an excellent deal.