As a native Nashvillian, I can’t say enough how EXCITED I am for the new influx of great restaurants descending upon our town. Our city is undoubtedly in the spotlight, with everyone from Hollywood, to The New York Times, to Conde Nast Traveler taking notice. Nashville is hot right now. And perhaps one of the best things about that is the fact that amazing chefs are setting up shop in “Music City” and bringing gourmet fare with them!
Rolf & Daughters is one of the latest hotspots to pop up on the Nashville food scene. It’s tucked away on a quiet, residential street in Germantown and the buzz about the place is palpable. The menu is a mix of Northern Italian & Mediterranean dishes inspired by southern, local cuisine. The website notes that they strive to serve “modern peasant food” – dishes that are rustic and unfussy and crafted with the best ingredients available. The chef/owner is from Germany, and most recently helmed the kitchen at “Fish Out of Water” in Watercolor, FL. I decided to visit on a Friday night to celebrate a belated 30th birthday for one my best friends.
From start to finish, it was amazing. The hostess who took our reservation over the phone was warm and friendly (which shockingly isn’t always the case with new “hot” restaurants). The ambience is super fab. I don’t like to go to restaurants with bad lighting. No matter how good the food is, if you have a bright spotlight shining down on your face, it feels like you are eating gourmet cuisine via a prison cell (this was my one issue with City House for a while, until they decided to go dimmer – now it is perfection!)
The warm candlelit dining room at Rolf & Daughters is an open space that’s the perfect size – it feels bustling and vibrant, yet still cozy. It’s accented with exposed brick walls, a backlit bar area that anchors itself in the center of the room, plush banquets against the walls and natural wood tables. It is intimate, cool, and trendy. The music is loud (but in a good way!) and is a mix of up-and-coming indie artists and iconic superstars.
The cocktail list is inspired by Italian aperitivos and southern sippers, with a focus on local companies (Jackalope “Bearwalker” brew is available on tap!) I ordered a “Cumberland Sour” – a perfectly balanced cocktail that started savory and finished sweet. It was delish. My friend Grace ordered the “Milan Mule” (a twist on the Moscow Mule) and it was fresh and tasty. The wine list isn’t extensive, but is definitely adequate. It features mostly Italian labels that are reasonably priced (the most expensive bottle is $110).
Our server was impeccable. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and served our meal at the perfect pace. We ordered a few appetizers including a crostini topped with whipped ricotta and mint, seasonal razor clams topped with lemon, parsley and garlic, and a shaved brussels sprout salad that can change the mind of anyone with an aversion to brussels sprouts (it was beyond). The starters are served in a semi-tapas style – the plates are small and totally appropriate for sharing.
For our mains, we opted for pasta (I have never met a noodle that I didn’t love). These dishes were again, totally awesome. All of their pastas are made in-house daily, and they are fresh and delish. The bucatini all amatriciano was hearty and seasoned to perfection. The garganelli verde with pork ragout was my absolute fave. It was mouthwatering (seriously a must-order when you visit). To finish off our meal we ordered a chocolate torte made with local Olive & Sinclair chocolate, and the Rolf & Daughters incarnation of cream-filled doughnuts. Seriously, to die! Loved every bite.
Rolf & Daughters is an absolute gem on the Nashville dining scene. I can’t wait to go back and eat my way through the rest of the menu (and maybe order main dishes next time, since I was stuffed after the pasta course!)
The one complaint I have about the restaurant is that it only offers street parking, and no valet. Since it’s busy, if you aren’t able to find a close parking spot, you are left to walk a good distance at night (which wouldn’t have been the safest decision for me and my girlfriend!) Luckily we found a parking spot that was right across from the restaurant, but I hope they offer a valet service in the future.
happy dining, womanistas!
xo, the Womanista