I was the Cinderella of restaurants, headed to the ball — or in this case, North Italia at BLVD Place, for a night of ambrosial dining. At its much-anticipated preview, the second concept from Fox Restaurant Concepts (True Food Kitchen is the other) was packed wall to wall on a Friday night. And what scene would be complete without a social or two? Scattered through the restaurant were Lynn Wyatt, Shelby Hodge, designer Garrett Hunter, Ceron, PR buff Matt Johns, and a rose-haired Vivian Wise. “Welcome to North Italia. Can I have the name on your reservation?” echoed in my ear. I gave my name, only to learn that my table wasn’t quite ready. I scurried to the bar for a drink to wait for both my table and my impending guest. My drink of choice? Apple bourbon punch, a honeyed cocktail with apple- and vanilla-infused bourbon and chai tea. Moments later, I heard those magical words: “Follow me, your table is ready.”
As I walked through the main dining room, which easily seats 200, there wasn’t an empty table in sight. With my trusty confidante in tow, we pondered selections, only to be stumped by the copious choices. So, we drilled our waiter (God bless him). Upon his recommendation, we began with bacon and egg pizza; the runny egg, crisp bacon and fluffy potatoes perfectly married. For a second course, we chose pasta —because only a fool would turn down handmade pasta. My ricotta gnocci can only be described as little clouds of heaven on a bed of braised beef short ribs covered in horseradish crema. For the final stretch of our tasting marathon, we sampled bombolini, Italian donuts with lemon curd garnish. And just when we thought it couldn’t get better, the heavens rang down another dessert: salted caramel budino, a sweet Italian custard. I savored those last bites, hoping the clock never struck 12.