Oh, Research Triangle restaurants. Few and far between end up wowing and Gocciolina in Durham was set up for just that. While I wish it would have delivered, I’m also grateful not to have a new favourite spot in the middle on a lonely strip mall in a part of Durham that I’ve never seen.
The outside was promising and demanded all it could to not feel like a strip mall.
Inside, my friend and I settled in for a cozy lady date. To block out the sub-freezing temperature outside, we started with a carafe of a lacklustre Pinot Noir ($15). This was the perfect amount of wine to share, but the flavour wasn’t anything to write home about.
We started off with a trio of small appetisers. Spicy chickpeas were alright. The bread could have used an olive oil side car. And the item I was most excitrd about, “spreadable pepperoni,” was of such poor presentation, that it hardly made you want to dig in. And when you did dig in, you wondered, then tried not to, what made the pepperoni spreadable.
The third trio item was fried eggplant. The crisp was phenomenal, by topped with blue cheese and canned beets…well…
The simple salad that we shared was massive pieces of butter lettuce, simply dressed with oil and balsamic. There was no salad plate or side plate small enough to accomodate the massive leaves, so we unfortunately ate this along side our pasta in the pasta bowl.
I tried the carbonara. At only $9, I’m not sure why I was expecting to be wowed. The serving size was about perfect, but the lack of flavour left something to be desired. It was dry and bland. I found myself constantly looking around for salt and pepper.
My friend tried the Amatricana. It was overwhelming smokey. I had a bite, which was just plenty of that.
I wanted so badly to like this restaurant, but literally every dish fell short. The prices and serving sizes were very generous, but I’d just rather have good food.