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Friday, June 20, 2014

Chattanooga Food Friday: Alleia

A review of Alleia in Chattanooga, Tennessee
As the resident foodie, I make most of our dining choices. 99% of the time I'm totally OK with this position, but occasionally it's nice to sit back and have someone else do the research and make the hard choices. A few weekends ago when we went to Chattanooga, I let Steve do all of the organization, and honestly, that was the best gift. When we arrived at the surprise dinner location, I was very impressed. Steve did good, and Alleia was beautiful.
A review of Alleia in Chattanooga, Tennessee
The design of the space is outstanding. Dark wooden furniture, private high-walled booths with low lights and candles really pump up the romantic feel. You could feel all the effort that went into making this place gorgeous. I was a sucker for the large candelabra display on the back wall that was allowed to drip and form a beautiful cascade of wax. It reminded me of what you might see in a vampire's foyer.
Cocktails at  Alleia in Chattanooga, Tennessee
For a cocktail I ordered the coco tesoro which contained coconut ciroc, honey lavender syrup and lemon juice. The presentation of the cocktail was lovely and the yellow color glowed in the candlelight. You could really taste the honey and lemon, but overall it was light on the coconut taste. This drink was very sweet, but I quite liked it. Steve went for the vecchio amico that contained crown royal, campari, dry vermouth and orange. This was a manly drink, but it was also slightly bitter. While Steve liked this, it was too bitter for me.
Fig and gorgonzola pizza at  Alleia in Chattanooga, Tennessee
The menu at Alleia has lots of options making it really good for ordering a bunch of things and sharing. We were told that the pizzas were big enough for one person so we figured we would order one and share it as an appetizer. What we got was a massive pizza that could easily feed two people for dinner, and since we already ordered a few other things, we had leftovers! I'm a smitten kitten when it comes to figs so we went for the fig, gorgonzola and prosciutto pizza with arugula on top. The crust itself was thin and crisp, and the dough was folded in an interesting way so that the crust had ridges in it, yet it was hollow on the inside. As expected, the fig jam was nice and sweet and mixed well with the tang of the gorgonzola. I only wished they added a bit more of the prosciutto to the pie. More of the smokey animal fat flavor would have been a welcome complement to the sweet fig.
pork belly and gnocchi at  Alleia in Chattanooga, Tennessee
For the pasta course we chose the gnocchi with pork belly, ramps and peas. This dish smelled so good that I just wanted to put my face in the plate and breathe it all in. I must note that the staff was nice enough to split the plates for us, so we each got even portions of our dishes. The gnocchi was soft and pillow-like and the butter-esque sauce in which they were sitting was heavenly. The pork belly had good flavor and was fork-tender. For me, this cut of meat could have been fattier. Personally, I always enjoy a nice juicy layer of fat on my pork. Despite the lack of fat, the pork and the gnocchi made a perfect mouthful, so that when eaten together they were reminiscent of steak and potatoes.
Meatballs at  Alleia in Chattanooga, Tennessee
For our final plate we ordered the pork meatballs in a salsa verde with a side of grilled cabbage and roasted potatoes. The cabbage and potatoes were my favorite part of this dish. The cabbage had a nice smokey flavor to it. The potatoes were well seasoned and crisp on the outside. The meatballs didn't really knock my socks off, as I found them a little hard and dense overall. I would suggest that if you serve a sturdier meatball, you have a more "liquid" sauce to add some juice. The salsa verde was very sparse and didn't help to add liquid back into the meat. This just proves that the meatballs at City House are hard to beat.

The service that we had was excellent. Our server was knowledgeable and attentive without being overbearing. The manager even stopped by to see how we were doing, which is a nice touch. I especially appreciated how they removed all plates and silverware at the end of each course and brought fresh ones. I don't understand why more restaurants don't implement this simple practice to up the class factor. Also, the ladies room was really REALLY pretty. Bonus.

I think Alleia is a nice choice for Chattanooga dining. The ambiance is romantic, the food is prepared well and the service is high-end. If you are looking for a fancy take on Italian in Chatt-town, Alleia is your place.

Alleia Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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