This Thursday, Il Desco, Jacksonville’s newest modern Italian restaurant, will be opening its doors to the public! The restaurant is located where the old Pele’s Wood Fire use to be and is a beautiful site on the corner of Park Street! I attended a menu preview last Friday and I’m pretty optimistic that Il Desco will fit in nicely with Riverside’s eclectic food scene!
The new reconfiguration of the dining room layout is gorgeous! Design Cooperative did a beautiful job opening up the space and adding a stylish and contemporary flair! I mean, would you just look at these chandeliers! I would love to have some of these in my house! They’re definitely an eye catcher as soon as you walk in!
The restaurant has 150 seats with a 20 seater community table being a focal point. This makes perfect sense being that Il Desco means “the dinner table”! It’s made with century-old wood that has been restored. I’ve always liked the idea of communal dining but I appreciate the fact that there are more intimate seating options as well.
There is also a full bar with 13 beers on tap, 26 wines by the glass and 125 wines by the bottle.
There’s is also a full wine room and two cocktails on rotatation, available on tap, served with fresh shaved ice or cubed ice.
Speaking of cocktails, I had the opportunity to try several. My kind of Friday night!
The Negroni was my favorite and happened to be one of the cocktails on tap. It was very fresh with a hint of sweetness.
My second favorite was The Daquiri. As you can see, it is definitely not what one may think when they hear Daquiri but it was a nice cocktail. Not too strong and not too sweet.
There are several talented chefs under the direction of Executive Chef Brennan Pickren, who prepared an evening of fabulous cuisine for us to sample.
There’s a raw bar with locally caught seafood including oysters, clams, shrimp, and daily crudo offerings. I love it when local restaurants use local meat and produce. They are dedicated to using local products as often as possible.
Il Desco has a menu full of classic Italian dishes with modern twists, including house-made pastas, sandwiches, salads, grilled entrées, and wood-fired pizzas!!!
Here is some of what we sampled off of the menu:
Oysters: Served with fennel and orange mignonette, cocktail sauce, horseradish, and fresh lemon.
Grilled Octopus: Served with puttanesca, arugula, crispy garlic, and squid ink.
Margherita Pizza: Made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh pulled mozzarella, basil, and olive oil.
The Garden Party Pizza: Made with roasted brussels sprouts, rapini, tomato, wild mushroom, smoked provolone, mozarella, ricotta, and prosciutto.
Spaghettini Arrabiatta: Tomato sauce, red chili, shaved Parmigianno-Reggiano, basil, and an extra large meatball!
Lobster Cavatelli: Maine Lobster, fresno peppers, lobster cream, and herbs.
Chicken Milanese: Springer Mountain pan roasted breaded chicken, brown butter, white wine, garlic, shallots, heirloom tomatoes, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Everything was beautifully plated! I love trying new things so my favorite dish of the evening would have to be the Garden Party pizza! I would never think of a combination of brussel sprouts and procuitto for a pizza but it totally works!
Il Desco opens this Thursday and considering the fact that they are operated by “Forking Amazing Restaurants” who also operate some of Jax’s favs like Ovinte and Bistro Aix, I’m sure Il Desco will be right on par!
As always, thanks so much for stopping by! Stay Hungry!