CLTBests: Upscale, Uptown Dinner at Aria

As food bloggers, one of our most commonly-asked questions is about where to eat uptown for a date night. If you’ve been one of the folks on the hunt for a date night spot in uptown, we don’t have to tell you that you have many, many beautiful restaurants to choose from. Most places uptown offer a modern, snazzy backdrop for your night away from the kids, but Aria takes it a step further and also offers phenomenal Italian food and craft cocktails to satisfy your belly.

Aria Tuscan Grill in Uptown

We recently had the pleasure of sitting at the Chef’s table at Aria for a simultaneously intimate and exciting dinner experience.

Thyme to Drink (Tito’s Handmade Vodka, House Made Thyme Simple, Fresh-squeezed Orange and Lemon Juice, and Burnt Orange)

We started our evening with a look at the newly re-vamped cocktail menu by the one and only Bob Peters. The newer cocktails include refreshing and very well-named craft drinks such as Thyme to Drink (Tito’s Handmade Vodka, House Made Thyme Simple, Fresh-squeezed Orange and Lemon Juice, and Burnt Orange) and Skip the Wine (1792 Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey, House Made Rosemary Simple, Fresh Squeezed Orange + Lemon Juice). We don’t recommend skipping the wine, though; Aria offers an extensive selection of fantastic wines.

Rocket Pizza (Bresaola, Goat Cheese, Fresh Arugula Salad)

We dove right in and started with the Veal Carpaccio and Rocket Pizza. We are admittedly suckers for goat cheese, but this pizza was incredible. The Carpaccio was sliced perfectly thin and the small red peppers gave the dish a perfect pop.

The Bartlett (Tito’s handmade Vodka, Pear Nectar, Prosecco Float)

One of our favorite dishes of the night was the Mint Pappardelle (with Lamb Bolognese, Uno Alla Volta Fresh Ricotta Watermelon Radish, and Snipped Salsa Verde). You just can’t beat homemade pasta and, when you combine it with a perfectly savory lamb Bolognese, we will be asking for seconds.

Hand Made Mint Pappardelle (Lamb Bolognese, Uno Alla Volta Fresh Ricotta Watermelon Radish, Snipped Salsa Verde)
Pasta al Nero (Lump Crab, Linguine, Melted Leeks, Pickled Fresno Chili, Preserved Lemon)

Another of our favorites was the Nantucket Scallops. These perfectly-seared scallops lay on top of a creamy bed of risotto with crispy Proscuitto. The flavors and textures of this dish contrast and compliment at the same time.

Pan Roasted Nantucket Scallops (Roasted Tomato Risotto, Crisp Prosciutto, Micro Basil)
Grilled Rack of Lamb (Sicilian Caponata, Aged Balsamic Drizzle)

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, someone said Marscapone Cheesecake. In that moment, we suddenly had room for a few bites of this fluffy, creamy, perfectly rich treat.

Mascarpone Cheesecake (Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Pistachio)
Cassata (Uno Alla Volta Orange Ricotta Cake)
Wine selection, in the bar at Aria

If you want to kick your date night up a notch, incorporate your Aria dinner with a visit to Blumenthal to catch a show. Aria offers 10% off your bill before or after the show when you present your Blumenthal Performing Arts Tickets. You can also take advantage of their validated parking (or the valet on the corner of College and Trade).

Upstairs at Aria, which leads directly into Founders Hall
Aria Exterior

Bonus: If you get a chance to catch owner, Pierre Bader, be sure to listen to his stories about his global gastronomic adventures. Also, grab a sneak peek of the spot in progress next door. Cicchetti, Aria’s complimentary wine shop, opens soon.

Haley and Carly are sisters, friends, working moms, 30-somethings, and Charlotte natives.  We blog about all things Charlotte, from food to family-friendly events. After years of moving around, Haley has settled in South End, and Carly in Davidson.