LaVecchia's Still a Great Catch for Seafood

An uptown favorite for seafood has a new chef, new location, and, puzzlingly, a familiar look



Peppered Yellow Fin Tuna is one of the seafood standouts on Chef Michael Rayfield’s menu.

Taylor Mathis

When Nick LaVecchia opened the original LaVecchia’s Steaks and Seafood in Seventh Street Station in 1998 (it was called LaVecchia’s Seafood Grille back then), it was the city’s hottest spot to see and be seen. Bankers filled the funky, fish-adorned dining room during lunch hours, and evenings found the upscale bar area packed with Charlotte’s most notable—and most beautiful—sipping martinis while waiting for a table.

Over time, the former hot spot lost its luster. Meanwhile, LaVecchia, a Charleston Johnson & Wales–trained chef with a background in seafood, began opening other local restaurants, including Nix Burgers & Brews in uptown, as well as steakhouses and taverns in Belmont, Gastonia, and Kings Mountain.

Last year, the restaurateur moved his flagship spot several blocks south to a location just off the entrance to uptown’s Hearst Tower. Its patio, tucked beneath the tower, is popular during warmer weather for lunch as well as happy hour. The new location’s interior features the restaurant’s signature oversize fish sculptures and contemporary décor with bright blue lights, meant to evoke the feeling of being beneath the sea. But the mix doesn’t work here as well as it did at the former location, and the combination of white leather booths and neon lights leaves the space feeling cold and slightly outdated.

The layout does allow for looks into the raised kitchen, and that’s where diners are most likely to be impressed. The location change included the addition of Executive Chef Michael Rayfield and a menu update. Rayfield’s appetizer selection is seafood heavy—and pleasing. The Cold Tower ($38)—a holdover from the old menu—featuring quivering, fat-bellied oysters, brightly flavored ceviche, and sashimi tuna, offers your best bet for indulging in the restaurant’s freshest selections. Lobster bisque ($8), which is offered at both lunch and dinner, is opulent and smooth with a generous helping of lump crabmeat in the bowl’s center.

LaVecchia’s offers steaks, but you’ll find better steakhouses uptown. You may not find better seafood. A pan-roasted Chilean sea bass ($39) is seared so it’s crispy on the outside and perfectly tender and white inside, while the yellow fin tuna ($27) is so fresh and flavorful that only a hint of pepper and wasabi cream are necessary accompaniments. The wine list has also been upgraded, and servers are knowledgeable regarding pairings for highlighting the flavors in the fish.

Unfortunately, though, in general the service at LaVecchia’s lacks the charm of its dishes. While the restaurant touts itself as the perfect place to dine before a show, service dragged in early visits, making this an ill-advised choice for those in a hurry. LaVecchia’s still has improvements to make to reach its former popularity. But the consistently well-prepared seafood and new, more central location offer hope for the future.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Drinks with Alex Myrick

The former Domino’s pizza guy turned owner of uptown’s Blue and the new Osso shares a few of the delicious secrets to his success over a glass of albarino

Kobe Kreations Brings New Meaning to Take Out

How to get sous vide at home—no fancy equipment necessary

Dinner, Party of Eight

Cozy up at home this winter with this savory—and easy—Carolina-meets-Europe dinner party

We invite your responses and discussion. Please refrain from personal attacks, profanity, commercial promotion, or non sequiturs.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Newsletters

Stay up-to-date on all things Charlotte by signing up for our newsletters. Learn more and sign up by clicking here.

 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Blogs »

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Looking Ahead

We've got cooking classes, special events, and much more

Comments


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

This Weekend in Charlotte: The Steel Wheels, All Arts Market, & Rock of Ages

Comments


Dusk Till Dawn

Jared Misner Chronicles Charlotte's Nightlife and Social Scene, Straight No Chaser

The Moon Walk, Candy Fest, Silly String Party, Booze Cruise and More, July 30 to Aug. 2

With the final weeks of summer upon us, take the opportunity to throw on your whitest of white, tip back a few on the patios around town and hop on a booze cruise.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Happy National Chicken Wing Day!

The "national day of" things can be a bit silly, but we're all for celebrating this one

Comments


Style

The who, the what, and the wear of Charlotte.

The Best Shirts to Stay Cool

Beat the heat with these breezy choices

Comments

Edit ModuleShow Tags