Strada Italiano

Strada Italiano: Asheville’s Own Downtown Trattoria
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Strada serves up a crowd-pleasing array of Italian entrees—earning extra points for its vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings—and backs it all up with welcoming ambience and warm service.

- The Local Expert Team

Downtown Asheville, NC enjoys its very own Italian trattoria in the form of Strada, housed in a 19th-century building alongside the Social Lounge. Chef Anthony Cerrato’s dishes draw inspiration from across Italy and its many regional cuisines, and showcase more than a few of his own family recipes.

From menu to ambience, Strada Italiano shows clear respect for the culinary traditions of the Old Country—and, in the spirit of la dolce vita, dedication to patrons enjoying an exquisitely flavorful and accessible meal in good company.

Walk inside the cozy, warmly lit restaurant, and right off the bat you’ll be immersed in that seductive trattoria atmosphere, ably recreated here in the Blue Ridge. Strada’s knowledgeable servers can give you a comprehensive overview of the menu’s breadth, which runs the gamut from varied antipasti and salads to pasta, pizza, and meat and seafood entrees, all of it complemented by a sturdy wine list. (There’s also a good selection of draft beers and top-shelf spirits.) The kitchen accommodates those of the vegetarian and vegan persuasions and also serves up gluten-free options for many of the plates.

Chef Cerrato puts a premium on the finest and freshest ingredients, and those include some locally sourced bounty from Asheville-area producers such as Ivy Creek Family Farm, Fork Mountain Farm, and Sunburst Farms. The flavors and aromas may evoke Italy, in other words, but there’s some Southern Appalachian spirit woven into the presentation as well.

Besides its daily lunch and dinner, Strada Italiano hosts a weekend brunch as well, which mixes up the Old World fare with a signature Breakfast Poutine as well as a nod to Southern cuisine in the form of Shrimp ‘n Grits. Another weekly highlight is the Spaghetteria deal offered Sunday and Monday evenings: a special menu of family-style pastas ideal for sharing among (hungry) friends or loved ones.

Here are a few of our menu favorites:

Tuscan Figs
This is the sort of appetizer that might just show up to happily haunt your dreams after you’ve savored it. We’re talking figs generously stuffed with basil-imbued goat cheese—already a scrumptious treat—and then suited up in a wrap of Prosciutto. Not a bad way to kick off your Strada meal, to say the least…

Mussels With Vodka Cream Sauce
You can order your mussels with garlic white wine or plum tomato sauce, but our personal favorite is the vodka cream sauce, which edges this seafood starter platter into divine territory.

Short Rib Gnocchi Bolognese
A standout of the Strada pasta menu, the Short Rib Gnocchi Bolognese showcases a lavish sauce conjured from ground veal, beef, pork, mushrooms, demi-glace, and plum tomatoes. The house-made gnocchi packs a toothsome punch, too.

Grilled Florentine Ravioli
Grilled ravioli? Yes indeed—in delectable, spinach-and-ricotta-stuffed form, laid out beautifully on an arugula bed and dressed in a sherry tomato cream sauce with a balsamic reduction, basil, and a topping of Pecorino Romano.

The Johnny ‘Ave’rsano
Strada calls this concoction a hybrid of pizza and calzone, but whatever it is we like how stuffed full of saucy, cheesy, meaty goodness it comes.

Strada Italiano’s menu is expansive enough—and, again, accommodating enough of dietary restrictions—to offer something to please just about everybody, and that includes genuine connoisseurs of Italian cookery.

Insider Tip:
As we mentioned, Strada Italiano adjoins the Social Lounge, and you can actually order off the full Strada menu at that watering hole’s awesome rooftop bar if you want to enjoy some al fresco wining and dining overlooking downtown Asheville.