After a recession-induced dry spell, inside-the-Beltline Raleigh is enjoying a refreshing drenching in the form of three noteworthy restaurant openings in less than two weeks.
Mordecai, a mostly residential district that has long been parched when it comes to dining options, is now home to Market (938 N. Blount St.; 754-0900; www.eatatmarket.com), whose motto is "Local ingredients, West Coast inspired." Owner/chef Chad McIntyre lives up to those words with offerings such as agave-crusted fresh catch, mushroom and goat cheese tamales, and honey-glazed cabrito, which pairs roasted local goat with braised wild greens and brown rice.
With a cozy bistro setting (including a small bar and outdoor seating area) as inviting as the menu, Market promises to be an inviting option for the neighborhood and beyond.
On Fayetteville Street near City Plaza, the name of newcomer La Volta (411 Fayetteville Street; 838-8700; www.lavoltarestaurant.com) pays witty tribute to its location on the ground floor of the Progress Energy building. There's nothing particularly shocking about the traditional Italian menu, though, which some may recognize as a joint creation of owner Mario Longo and executive chef Vinny Doria, longtime veterans of the local Italian restaurant scene.
The biggest surprises, given the upscale setting and prime location, are the affordable prices. Most entrees are in the $12-$15 range, and even ambitious fare such as pan-seared halibut with fig glaze will set you back less than $20. Amping up La Volta's attraction are a full bar (including an Italian-leaning wine list) and an expansive sidewalk patio that affords a front-row view of any entertainment staged on City Plaza.
The latest addition to the restaurants in Cameron Village is Café Caturra (432 Woodburn Road; 835-9463; www.cafecaturra.com), the first North Carolina location of a small Virginia-based chain. Café Caturra is hardly a typical chain, though, starting with the fact that it's a wine bar/sandwich shop/wood-fired pizzeria rolled into one.
For that matter, how many chains can boast that their sandwiches and panini are served on breads baked by La Farm Bakery in Cary? Scratch-made soups, salads and light bites such as crab cake sliders and heirloom tomato penne round out the offering and can be paired with boutique wines available by bottle and by the 3-, 6- or 9-ounce pour.