The thought of fighting the crowds in downtown, or settling for another mediocre seafood dinner just didn’t appeal to us. Turns out that some of the best food in the area doesn’t have to have a water view, or even be located anywhere near downtown. We had spotted Gennaro’s on the way north out of town, and decided since we didn’t have to do the interstate to get to it, we’d give it a try.
We weren’t sure about our choice. Gennaro’s is about four miles from our hotel in North Charleston, and our drive took us through some very shady areas. Fortunately, things picked up and looked a little more respectable. The parking lot was full, which we took as a good sign. The hostess asked if we had reservations, which we didn’t. However, a couple had cancelled, and we could be seated right away, rather than the typical 30-40 minute wait. Another good sign.
It’s obvious that this place has been here quite awhile. The decor was nothing special, with a variety of wood finishes and textures, most of which was a mish mash rather than having a rich feel. The walls were covered with memorabilia of jazz musicians, and apparently there is live music on Thursday nights.
There were the typical pasta dishes, as well as some other traditional Italian dishes and steaks. Most were around $12-$15, with some in the low $20’s.
We started with stuffed mushrooms. These were stuffed with sausage and topped with mozzarella cheese. The were almost like mini-pizzas without the bread, and were quite delicious. This was followed by great salads, striking a nice balance between plain lettuce and exotics.
Our entre’s finally arrived. You know when shrimp alfredo comes as a SIDE dish, the main course needs to be something special. I ordered the tuna special, which was lightly breaded and cooked in a lemon-garlic sauce. Laura ordered the chicken marsala, which came with a side of spaghetti. These were accompanied by the Gennaro label wine. We ran out of adjectives describing how light and delicious the meal was. Laura declared ith the best Italian she’d had in years. The side dishes almost went to waste. I nibbled the shrimp from mine, and had a taste of Laura’s spaghetti. Both on their own would have been great, but paled in comparison to the main event.
With the entre’s being so delicious, we had to try dessert. We decided to split on tirimasu. While it wasn’t a letdown, it seemed plain in comparison with the rest of the meal.
As we ate, I made it a point to watch the other meals come out. The pizzas in particular looked spectacular. All of it look excellent.
Service started out great. Toward the end of the meal, our waitress apparently got busy with a large group and tended to forget about us. Other tables, however, seemed to have quite efficient service.
This place just goes to prove that you don’t have to fight the crowds on the penninsula to find great food in Charleston.