At Ravello Ristorante in Montgomery, it’s easy to picture yourself on a cliffside perch above the sea in Italy, sipping a glass of local wine and enjoying plates of shaved aged ham and crudo dressed with lemon and fruity olive oil.
The walls along portions of Ravello’s main dining area are decorated with murals depicting the Amalfi Coast, which inspires both the food at the recently opened Montgomery restaurant and its name. Ravello is a resort town in the Amalfi region where the family of restaurant’s co-owner, Jud Blount, has a vacation place.
The restaurant’s multi-story interior also contributes to an open-air atmosphere. The high ceilings in the redeveloped pre-Depression bank building absorb the general dining room din, allowing tablemates to converse at a normal volume. Perched on the second floor overlooking the main dining area, intimate tables are available first-come, first-served only.
My wife and I, along with Nick and Jenny from the podcast Eating Alabama, were Ravello’s guests for a recent meal that provided an overview of the food produced in co-owner and executive chef Eric Rivera’s kitchen.
Rivera recommends ordering several small plates, a pasta or two, and a meat dish for the table to share. That’s the way, the chef says, they eat on the Amalfi Coast.
An appetizer featuring a trio of air-dried hams, Degustazione Di Prosciutto ($19), includes generous portions of freshly-sliced 18- and 22-month Prosciutto Di Parma and 18-month Prosciutto San Danielle.
The ham ages similarly to cheese, gaining firmer texture and deeper flavor as it loses moisture over time. You can taste the effect when comparing the two versions of the Di Parma.
Several kinds of crudo—thinly sliced raw fish including tuna and salmon—are dressed with different oils and flavorings. Cappesante ($14), balances the sweet and slightly briny scallop with lemon and high-end olive oil. Tart and citrus flavors splashed on the firm red snapper in Dentice Rosso ($16) get an herbaceous boost from basil.
Another appetizer, Carciofo E Fiori Di Zucca ($14), is a Roman-style fried artichoke and stuffed squash blossom, enhanced with pistachio vinaigrette. It’s crunchy yet light, salty, and earthy.
Burrata Mattino ($15) is house-made stuffed mozzarella served with toasted focaccia. Bitter greens provide a crunchy contrast to the creamy freshly pulled cheese.
The classic Italian bread salad, Panzanella ($10), features big chunks of focaccia, with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and chunks of mozzarella. There’s also a tasty twist, onion pickled in balsamic vinegar.
The peppery wild boar ragu in Bolognese Al Cinghiale ($20) is rich with tomatoes, wine, and triangular slices of fried garlic. Its ribbons of house-made pappardelle pasta have a nice bite and full flavor. The boar is bolder than conventional pork. Wine in the sauce brightens the tomatoes.
Ndunderi Al Limone ($18) is an Amalfi twist on gnocchi. Classically a dumpling-like potato-and flour orb, the airy, pillow-shaped Ndunderi is made from ricotta cheese and flour. A simple lemony sauce is packed with flavor, while a generous portion of grated aged sheep’s milk cheese also adds a pleasant granular texture to the dish.
Generously-portioned, Tiramisu ($10), stands out from the crowd with its moist yet firm cake and intense coffee and cocoa flavors. Another dessert, Ricotta Crostatta ($12), gets a signature Amalfi citrus boost from tart-sweet kumquats.
Ravello is part of a sprawling complex that includes event spaces and outdoor overlooks. A rooftop bar will premiere soon.
Opened by the group behind Vintage Year, Vintage Café, and MGM Greens in Montgomery’s Old Cloverdale district, Ravello elevates the standards for fine dining in the city’s downtown.
“When we were thinking what kind of concept Montgomery needs, it was Italian,” Rivera says. “We provide an authentic dining experience, the essence of the Amalfi Coast—simplicity, lightness, and freshness.”