Following up on Nathan's positive report (see link) of this new SC Italian eatery, Y and I headed there for a late dinner last night (after being unexcited about Donbo Udon's menu...a new Japanese restaurant downtown). In short, we made a wise decision, as the place showed its Southern Italian-inspired offerings well. No photos this time.
First, I must thank Nathan for being the guinea pig and reporting back. My first impression of Il Trullo based on the ambience and menu were "eh", but his report made me want to give them a chance. The place is small and intimate, which I don't mind, but the decor felt dated and cool w/ pastel murals and pale green tablecloths, not the warm trattoria feel I had hoped for. The menu was limited but focused and seemed on the heavy side. I've grown accustomed to the lightened Cal-Ital places in town that integrate alot of local produce, but something different can be good.
Straciatella soup (~$6.50): we eventually settled on this after considering the meatball soup. It was exactly as Nathan described. A poetic bowl of soup that spoke of springtime and rebirth. The soft curds of egg were light and fluffy, the peas were plump and glistening green, and the parsley added a little bitterness. The clear vegetable broth was clean and distinctive.
Mista al Sugo (~$16): Y ordered this at the waitress's recommendation and wasn't disappointed. A meat lover's delight, it came w/ Italian sausage, one meatball, and ham that was rolled in a thin piece of beef similar to braciole. A thin layer of marinara sauce blanketed the bottom of the plate and a nest of sliced potato rounds (steamed or boiled) rested to one side. While the sausage is not made on site, it was firm, had a very smooth texture, and was redolent w/ fennel. I couldn't tell if the meatball was made w/ veal or beef, but it was fluffy and smooth and better than any meatball I've made. I only had a bite of the beef wrapped ham, and it was good, but didn't wow me. Potatoes had a deep buttery flavor and were cooked perfectly. The sauce tied everything together beautifully. Simple food that was all prepared very, very well.
Bucatini alla Carbonara (~$12.50): While I've made carbonara at home many times, I've never had a chance to try bucatini before, the hollow tubular pasta. While this dish came out looking plain and simple, it was cooked very well and was very balanced all around. The egg in the carbonara was more scrambled as opposed to melting seamlessly into the sauce, but it echoed the wonderful fluffiness of the egg in the soup. The bacon was salty and not too smokey, and the bucatini was springy and bouncy. Even the black pepper served tableside tasted unique. Very simple yet satisfying, making for great leftovers.
Chocolate salami (~$6.50): I was very curious about this after Nathan mentioned this on the menu, even though I'm not a big chocolate fan. Three thick salami-like pieces were placed on a small plate. Basically cut from a chocolate log infused w/ rum and pieces of Italian biscuit cookies (waitress said "Maria" brand). This was truly delicious and again, skillfully made. The semi-sweet chocolate was smooth and perfectly enhanced by rum. The cookies were dotted evenly throughout and melded w/ the texture of the chocolate. If it weren't so late, a cappuccino would have been the only improvement.
Service was good w/ one waitress who was handling all tables, which were a third filled when we arrived around 8:30pm. While she wasn't as informed about the food as I would have liked, she had a genuineness that we appreciated. The kind of place that's serving unpretentious food made by a young, talented, and sensitive chef who wants you to just enjoy rather than overanalyze. We look forward to returning...
PS. They are open during lunch and had a sign offering a $9.95 lunch special.