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MNfusion: Parella Opens In Calhoun Square

It had been almost eight years since I had been in the space on the corner of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue.

While that may not help my case as a self-described burgeoning Twin Cities foodie, I should state that for six of those years I didn't live in the state. Nevertheless, the last time I was there Figlio had lived in the corner spot.

So, one of the first things that caught my attention about Uptown's newest Italian restaurant was how light the newly renovated space was.

Parella's Front Room
(credit: CBS)

In place of the dark, warm booths were bright, cool high-top tables. The layout was open and spacious, having done away with the step up to the dining area, and allowed guests to see from the front of the restaurant through to the back dining room area. Pops of red played off the white walls and added a modern, fun vibe.

"[It's] very visual. It's big, but it's open so you can see," sommelier Mary Macdonald said.

However, for those guests that may want a little more privacy there are a few tables that offer that.

A special private dining area is located on the left of the bar near the front of the restaurant. Perfect for a small party, the table is lofted a bit above the rest of the dining room and closed off by a partition wall.

Parella Private Dining Table
(credit: CBS)

Another location, which is perhaps my favorite table in the entire restaurant, is the bar table.

Bar Table At Parella
(credit: CBS)

Connected to the bar on the back, this booth could fit eight and sits a bit lower and out of eye sight, but perfectly nestled between the bar and the servers.

Mary, who is married to chef Todd Macdonald, is in charge of the wine program at Parella.

Staying true to the vision of the restaurant, the list is comprised of only Italian wines. But, as with the food, the flavors encompass the entire country.

"It's contemporary. It's Italian, but it's not faithful to any one region," Mary Macdonald explained.

Both Macdonalds took some liberties and explored a number of different flavors and palates.

Chef Todd presented a number of different dishes, all rooted in a different Italian region.

The crudos consisted of a light, citrus-y raw scallop served with perpperonata, meyer lemon and olive oil. Tuna was served two ways; as a fresh tuna tartare with fennel and yellowtail tuna with raw funghi. And a smooth, savory house cured salmon was paired with peas, mint and pea tendrils.

Parella's Tuna Tartare
(credit: CBS)

As seen with the salmon, one of chef Todd's signature touches is using a number of different aspects of one ingredient. It was something he used in a several of his dishes, such as the brick pressed chicken.

"The chicken includes a sunflower puree and sunflower chokes. I have also garnished the plate with a sunflower petal," Todd Macdonald said. "I like expressing the component in different ways."

The chicken, a perfect combination of garlic, salt and creaminess, also made use of the brick oven. A former Figlio staple, chef Todd had previously mentioned his intention to make use of the brick oven throughout his menu.

One of the items that used the oven, and that may serve to be most popular for young happy hour guests, was the wood baked goat cheese. Goat cheese sits on a bed of tomatoes and gremolata. Is baked and served to be spread on olive toast.

Chef Todd will also offer handmade pastas, a trait that helped him rise in the New York dining scene.

And if you're really looking to try a taste of all the different dishes, try the veal tortolonni 'tonnato'. An egg noodle cooked in a corn broth stuffed with veal and served with capers. While it may not be wood-fired, it certainly encompasses the other aspects Parella is looking to be known for - house made pastas and Italian proteins.

Parella's Gimlet
(credit: CBS)

With reasonably priced entrees, a sophisticated bar and open atmosphere, Parella caters to the young, urban diners who are calling Uptown home.

Parella is located at 3001 Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood. The restaurant is now open for lunch and dinner service. For more information, or to make a reservation, call 612-353-5444 or visit Parella online.

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