Parma 8200, the newest D'Amico restaurant opens
Shrimp, fregola, and corn salad
"What is fregola?" we ask our server. "I think it's cheese," she replies. "Cheese?" "Maybe it's lettuce," awkward silence. "Would you mind checking for us?" "Sure I'll be right back" Ah, the travails of opening a new restaurant. While D'Amico and Partners have opened over 30 restaurants, even they are not immune from the pitfalls of the soft opening. Exhaustive knowledge of an extensive menu is one of the traits that takes time to develop.
Just coming out of its friends and family phase and a couple days into its soft opening, Parma 8200, named for the region in Italy, is finding its feet. With a three-sided antipasti bar, unique black and white decor and an awesome patio still under contruction, D'Amico and Partners has opened its latest Italian offering in the Twin Cities on the bottom floor of the 8200 building in Bloomington. With free parking and easy access, it is a welcome addition to the southern Twin Cities eatery scene.
Richard D'Amico has been opening restaurants for 26 years. When asked about the issues that crop up with birthing a new restaurant he lists the obvious: financing, you always go over budget, time period before profitability, always longer than projected, as well as the menu and staffing. There are so many little things on top of those (like fregola), it can be overwhelming.
The interior design reflects the location. Designed by Richard, the darker colors and bent toward masculinity will play well with the business clients that surround the building. But the large windows and plentiful light make it family friendly as well.
As for the food:
Restaurants are like artists, they need to find their voice. Parma 8200 is still looking for its voice a little.
Watermelon and sweet basil salad
While it is the most classically Italian of D'Amico's restaurants, the more fusiony dishes won over our palettes: the watermelon salad with pesto, the apple gorgonzola salad, and the tempura battered calamari with lemon mayonnaise.
Romaine, apple and red onion salad
Cavatelli with pork ragu
The cavatelli with pork ragu was well textured and fresh but needed a little more interest. The vodka penne was hard to distinguish from other versions around town. That being said, the best test for any new restaurant is whether or not there are additional items I'd like to try, and the Parma menu is loaded with many that pique my interest. There will be additional visits.
A massive patio will be opening July 18, with some of the biggest fireplaces in Minnesota. Cool summer nights spent there with some fresh shrimp, fregola, and corn salad will be amazing. BTW, fregola is a small semolina pasta similar to a large couscous.
Parma 8200, 8200 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington; 952.896.8888
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