DAVIDSON – Il Bosco is intimate. It only seats 44 diners, so the space is cozy and inviting.
But it’s not just the space that engenders the term.
The food is also intimate. It feels like it is created especially for you.
And that’s because it painstakingly prepares handcrafted, Old-World-meets fusion cuisine that is well thought-out in both taste and presentation. So the 44 seats in the restaurant become an advantage to the diner because only in a place this small could food be prepared on such a personal level.
On a summer day, the sunlight pours into the front widows of Il Bosco ethereally lighting the entire room. A table by the front window, overlooking a side street in quaint Davidson, gives the feel of sitting in a café in Italy. The front room also boasts a fireplace, modern white leather couch and dark stained shelves holding various bottles of Italian wine. The bar area gives equal billing to a high-end espresso machine and gleaming bottles of liquor. The rest of the restaurant opens quietly behind the bar with cloth-covered tables and hanging lights. The feel is of fine dining, yet approachable and the same can be said of the food.
Chef Joe Herman has an incredible work ethic when it comes to menu items.
“I get up early every morning to start the pastries,” Herman said. “It’s Red Bull first thing. Then I drink coffee to come down.”
There are separate lunch and dinner menus encased in big, leather bindings. The lunch offerings are heavy on panini and salads and the dinner offers more pastas.
The menus are purposeful in their constant seasonal flux, using the best offerings for the time of the year.
For example, fall vegetables will change from early autumn to late autumn, and there will be heavier dishes in the winter as opposed to summer. And while the changes happen gradually, if a customer came back a year late,r the menu would be completely different.
“It’s something we can do because of our small turnover of tables,” Herman said. “It makes it easy to be creative and change things up.”
The food at the restaurant is a blend of traditional and contemporary ingredients in the Italian cuisine. For example, a new chicken dish combines tender cut-with-a-fork chicken breasts with artichokes, mushrooms, guanciale, cured jowl meat and bacon with a white wine sauce.
Another addition to the fall menu is chocolate fettuccine with duck confit and fall vegetables. These types of dishes along with more customary fare make the menu a culinary adventure. But even the more typical dishes such as Spaghetti Pomodoro are superior with the delicate sauce and sautéed cherry tomatoes.
Il Bosco can boast that everything on the menu is homemade, from the pasta to the sandwich bread to the sauces to the dressings. Herman got a bread oven two years ago and has been churning out baguettes, scones, croissants and more.
The restaurant opens at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday to offer a continental-style breakfast – pastries and other bread products plus the best-tasting coffee. They use a micro roaster out of Marietta, Ga., for a robust espresso made with mostly Arabica beans and a touch of Robusta because that’s how they do it in Italy. The result is an espresso with a thick creama. Any type of coffee or espresso drink can be crafted at the restaurant.
The name means ‘the woods’ in Italian an ode to all the trees in Davidson as compared to Charlotte, where proprietor Jimmy Herman owned a restaurant called Firenze.
“It’s all concrete there,” Jimmy Herman said. “But here it is full of nature.”
And the restaurant is also full of excellent, skilled, creative food made just for you at a local, amazing trattoria.
Want to go? Il Bosco Ristorante and Bar, 127 Depot St., Davidson, 704-987-1388.