The following article was written by 'Vacation Rick' and has been shared with Summerville News with his permission.
Summerville, S.C. - It sits at a corner of crossroads in an area once upon a time the beating heart of Summerville. The railroad brought Charleston's elite and visitors from north, west, and south to the station that sat on real estate nearby. Its name is simple in that it is simply a single name. However, it is not just a piece of cake. It is a lot more. Its name is Laura, and it is one of Summerville's hottest new restaurants.
Laura is a rustic Italian restaurant paying homage to the simple and incredible flavors you would find in Rome, Florence, Naples, and beyond. It is the latest conception of Chef Nico Romo, founder of Mount Pleasant's NICO and Charleston's Bistronomy. Laura was the name of Nico's grandmother. Her recipes are the inspiration behind the restaurant named in honor of her.
The evening we visited Laura, it was pouring rain. So taking pictures outside was out of the question. My first surprise when we stepped in through the door and approached the reception's podium was the restaurant's interior spaciousness, quite different than your perception of it from the exterior. We had a 5:30 reservation and were escorted to a table for two with booth seating on one side, which was very comfortable. The immaculately arranged table had a white cloth, drinking glass, wine glass, yellow decorated plates, and silverware. Our server for the evening immediately greeted us. She was dressed in a black and white striped top. The kind gondoliers wear in Venice.
She addressed our drink selections first, for which we had a few questions, such as, "What is your favorite?" At first, my partner asked about the Negroni for $13--Nolet's Gin, Campari, Carpano Antica--which she changed quickly after the server said without hesitation, "Blood Orange Martini--Firefly Vodka and blood orange for $14." It turned out to be the right choice. Garnished with a slice of Blood Orange, the drink was refreshing. My partner happily indulged on the alcohol-soaked slices of blood oranges.
After surveying the dinner menu, my partner chose Octopus with polenta parmigiano, artichoke, pesto, and crispy prosciutto for $18. I went with Gnocchi with asparagus, pancetta, parmesan cream, and herb crumb for $20. We split the Caesar Salad with white anchovy, shaved parmesan, and radish for $14.
The white anchovies were succulent, and the salad was crisp. The Gnocchi was smooth and delicate. My partner allowed me a taste of her Octopus. It would be my first exposure to this creature of the sea as an entre, so it needed to impress. It passed the taste test with flying colors. I will describe the crispy prosciutto as being creme de la creme bacon. The whole affair was topped off with Strawberry Cheesecake, a sweet finish.
The interior space was comfortably lit. All the tables were cozily spaced, no crowded feeling, and you didn't hear your neighbor's conversations. The furnishings were appealing and apropos. Family portraits hung on the walls, and an unusual piece of nostalgia next to a large wine rack graced the entrance area, a Ducati. A large red polka-dotted pizza oven and an open kitchen were notable features.
The service was impeccable. Water glasses were always filled, and used dishes were quickly removed. All presentations were visually appealing and mouth-watering. Our primary server was conversational, attentive, helpful, and humorous.
After our visit to Laura in Summerville, it is understandable why it is one of the town's hottest new restaurants. It offers the complete Italian culinary experience patrons crave.
Photographs by Anne-Merle Bryant.