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Amelia Islander

Cucina South

Aug 09, 2016 02:33PM
Two years ago, Tim Seyda of Bar Zin Restaurant jumped at the chance to open another restaurant a few doors down from his existing eatery in the Palmetto Walk Shopping Village. With the help of his friends, John and Kelly May, Cucina South has become one of Amelia Island’s favorite Italian bistros! On a recent evening, I invited my friend Sherry to join me for dinner there, and Chef Robert Croom was ready to treat us to a memorable meal. Our server, Todd, began by bringing us each a glass of wine; for Sherry, Anselmi San Vincenzo, a medium-bodied white that was dry and fresh, and for me, Santa di Vermentino, another Italian white. Both paired well with Cucina South’s bruschetta and tapenade. The tapenade was chock full of olives, roasted red peppers, cherry peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and extra virgin olive oil, and topped with shaved Parmagiano Reggiano cheese. Such a delicious starter for our traditional Italian dinner. Todd then brought us Roasted Egglant Rolotini, an antipasto dish that consisted of eggplant wrapped around fresh mozzarella, nestled in marinara sauce, and then topped with alfredo sauce. I love eggplant, and Todd told us that Chef Robert flash fries the eggplant for a few seconds, and that’s what makes it tender and rich. The marinara and alfredo sauces are homemade, of course, and the two together were incredible! I convinced Sherry to share a bowl of Italian Leafy Salad, which is one of my favorite menu offerings. The leafy greens are lightly dressed with a champagne vinaigrette, then topped with tomato, basil, red peppers, feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, and green onions. Sherry noted that the dressing had a “chiffon finish,” and that’s the perfect description of this salad. While many types of vinaigrette can be tangy and acidic, this dressing was much gentler on the palate. A superb salad! Todd suggested we order Seared Sea Scallops, and we agreed. They sounded wonderful. Served with spicy capicola, roasted red peppers, baby arugula, and creamy gorgonzola sauce, the scallops and sauce were sitting atop a plate of linguini, and they were impeccably cooked. They were well seasoned and seared to perfection. Capicola is spiced and smoked pork shoulder, and it adds a pleasant, smoky flavor to this dish, which is extremely rich and satisfying. I decided to stay with white wine for this dish, and Laguna Chardonnay from the Russian River valley was a great pairing, with its silky texture and lingering finish. Sherry ordered Capestrano Montepulciano, a medium-bodied red from Abruzzo, Italy, a robust, well-balanced wine with notes of maraschino cherry. Both of these wines were quite agreeable with our rich scallop and pasta dish! For dessert, Kelly had prepared a special treat, a Coconut Tres Leches Cake. Normally, Tres Leches Cake is a sponge cake drenched with evaporated and condensed milk, and cream, but this cake also contained coconut milk. What a delight! The cake was moist and custardy, and one of the reasons I always save room for dessert at Cucina South. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner from 5:50 to 9 p.m. For more information or to make a reservation, call (904) 432-7920 or visit