Fifteen months after their wedding in January 2006, Jeff Tonidandel and Jamie Brown quit their jobs, put everything they owned into storage, and booked a flight to Europe for what turned into an eight-month backpacking trip. They tracked down members of Tonidandel’s extended family, who lived in small towns near the mountainous northern Italian village of Andalo.
Thirteen years after they opened their first restaurant, Crêpe Cellar Kitchen & Pub, in an 80-year-old former furniture store in NoDa, the pair returned to Andalo—sort of. During a four-week “blitz” build-out, Brown and Tonidandel transformed Crêpe Cellar into an Italian restaurant they named Ever Andalo. The couple, who also own and operate Supperland, Haberdish, Growlers Pourhouse, and Reigning Doughnuts, wanted to add Italian cuisine to their portfolio. Crêpe Cellar had a good run, but it’s not their style to sit back and let their businesses grow stale.
The 88-seat restaurant has the same footprint, but Brown opted for a brighter palette this time. The wood floors are now a white and navy hexagon tile, the powder blue wainscoting a deep hunter green, and the wallpaper a bold floral pattern. The bar is still the focus of the restaurant, and the dark leather booths remain, but the wood tabletops and chairs got a lighter brown stain. Larger windows allow more light into the dining area, and what was the server station is now a wine storage room.
Ever Andalo employs much of the same staff from Crêpe Cellar, and they enlisted Supperland’s head pastry chef, Liana Sinclair, to create the dessert menu and bar manager Colleen Hughes to develop the cocktail program. Executive Chef Cory Owen came from Barcelona Wine Bar in Raleigh, and Chris Rogienski, Supperland’s executive chef, helped him build the menu.
The cocktail lineup includes classic Italian drinks like Limoncello ($15) and Barrel-Aged Negroni ($15). The wine program, led by level 3 sommelier Michael Klinger, focuses exclusively on Italian wines like Chianti, Lambrusco, and pinot bianco. Servers had to taste 12 wines a day during training to learn more than 100 different vintages on the menu, so ask them to direct you if you want to try something new.
Start with the Focaccia ($9), which comes with a flight of three olive oils and a tasting guide that describes each one. You can also add an order of Housemade Ricotta ($6) with honey and pistachios to spread on the warm, fluffy bread. The Burrata ($15) is a bit different than your standard ball of mozzarella and cream. Chef Owen serves his version with orange salt, orange marmalade, and grilled focaccia.
The pasta, made in-house, is the highlight. The Fettuccine all’Amatriciana ($20) and Calabrian Chili Pappardelle ($22) are both reliable standbys when you love a meaty, red sauce and long, thick noodles. If you’re in the mood to be surprised, though, just leave it up to your server and don’t give it a second thought.
The Spaghettini alla Nerano ($19) is the sleeper of the menu with thin, twirlable noodles, fried zucchini slices, pecorino romano, and parsley. If you’d normally roll your eyes at zucchini noodles, this will change your mind. The Farrotto ($18) is like a creamy risotto that uses whole grain farro in place of rice, and a mix of mushrooms, kale, and mascarpone. Both dishes are vegetarian, but they’re just as hearty as any meaty pasta on the menu. And when your server asks if you’d like to add a cheese cloud ($2) to your pasta, the correct answer is yes. It’s a pile of shredded parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, and they don’t stop grating until their wrists hurt.
The meat and fish course includes Chicken Piccata ($22), Branzino ($34), and Short Rib ($34) with mixed vegetable giardiniera. Add a side of Fernet Peas ($11) topped with mascarpone and mint; Broccolini Romesco ($13) with toasted almond slivers; or Eggplant Rollatini ($14), lightly battered eggplant rolled with ricotta, pecorino, and crispy prosciutto (they can also do a vegetarian version without the prosciutto).
The portions aren’t overwhelming, which is good because you’ll want to save room for dessert. The Tiramisu ($12) comes in a glass layered with white chocolate cremeaux, ladyfinger crumble, and coffee mousse. The Orange Olive Oil Cake ($14) is a thick wedge of velvety cake garnished with candied orange slices and edible flowers on a plate of lemon anglaise. The Cannoli ($13) come two to an order, and additional cannoli are $6 each if you want to take a few home.
Ever Andalo has the feel of a neighborhood trattoria and moves at the pace of one, too. You don’t feel like the staff is trying to turn tables or rush you through your meal. Servers get to know you and your preferences and encourage you to order at your own pace. Your meal is the experience, and this experience is meant to be savored.
TAYLOR BOWLER is the lifestyle editor.
3116 N. Davidson St.
5-10 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday
5-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday
5-10 p.m., Sunday