Bar La Grassa

Spouses Isaac Becker and Nancy St. Pierre (112 Eatery) collaborate on a hot new warehouse district pasta joint.

This restaurant is Star Tribune critic Rick Nelson's 2009 Restaurant of the Year. A big Italian menu is grouped into antipasti, bruschetta, pasta and meats/fish. Chef Erik Sather's charcuterie -- including pork-cheek terrine, and porchetta with cumin-paprika paste -- couldn't be more appealing ("la grassa" means "the fat in Italian, a worthy name). Likewise a bruschetta topped with tender scrambled eggs and bits of lobster. Pasta selections, mostly available in half- and full-sized portions, include a perfectly rendered veal ragu and fusilli with hearty house-made pork sausage. A half-dozen roasted meets and fish almost feel like an afterthought, but they don't taste that way: Try the salt-crusted prime beef. House-made pastas were not as delicate as they could be, some pastas arrived barely lukewarm, and the desserts felt unsatisfactory. The room, with two bars and a lively mix of early 20th century and 1970s, features tough-to-beat bar seating that overlooks the kitchen. Overall, this big collaborative enterprise combines great energy and wonderfully simple food.

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800 Washington Av. N. Minneapolis, MN 55401
5 p.m.-midnight Sun.-Thu.; 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Fri.-Sat, 5-10 p.m. Sun..; bar open to 2 a.m. Mon.-Sat. and to midnight Sun.