Italian cuisine

Limoncello Brings Authentic Southern Italian Cuisine to Greenville

The kitchen is already dancing with the smells of rich tomato sauce, garlic and herbs, the place is set and the limoncello is ready, and so is the restaurant that bears that name. Limoncello, the Southern Italian-inspired restaurant from the owners of Larkin’s Restaurants is now open.

The 5,000-square-foot restaurant at 401 River St. in downtown Greenville will open for dinner only this week, but will roll out lunch service and service next week.

The restaurant was announced in July, but it’s safe to say it’s a lifetime in the making. Larkin’s Restaurants owner Larkin Hammond and company COO Bob Munnich share Italian roots, particularly roots in the Calabria region of Italy, where both of their grandparents were from. .

So Limoncello is something of a love letter to family, and the family theme runs throughout the restaurant, from the warm and welcoming front dining room to the cozy yet bright rear dining room.

“That’s what we want to bring here, we want to bring a family vibe,” Hammond says. “There is no pretension here.”

Limoncello's whole fried branzini is an example of the restaurant's Southern Italian influence.

Munnich and his team – Larkin’s executive chef, Alex Castro and sous chefs, Sarah Dake and Andrew Olin have all played integral roles – have developed what he hopes will be satisfying, flavorful and authentic dishes that honor traditions. from southern Italy but are also rooted in Greenville.

Examples include seafood-heavy dishes like mussels and clams in a broth of vermouth, lemon, thyme and limoncello and whole-fried marinated branzini, as well as a variety of thin-crust pizzas and dumplings of signature meat. This last dish is prepared using a special recipe which is a mixture of recipes from his grandmothers and those of Hammond. The meatballs are made with a special binder that Munnich describes as similar to salty bread pudding, then cooked, not just finished, in the homemade tomato sauce. The result is a perfectly flavorful yet light meatball.

Linguine pescatore is also available with specially imported gluten-free Italian pasta.

It’s also worth noting that although Limoncello’s menu is full of hearty pastas, breads and pizzas, around 70% are gluten-free. Hammond, who follows a gluten-free diet herself, has taken great pains to find delicious gluten-free alternatives, even sourcing specialty pasta imported from Italy.

“It’s Larkin’s quality food, but it’s Italian,” Hammond said with a smile.

You’ll also find a nice supply of desserts here, thanks to Cindy Munnich, Bob’s wife and pastry chef at Limoncello. The menu is also Italian-inspired. Tiramisu and profiteroles offer a traditional end to a meal, as does a chocolate sabayon cake and homemade ice cream.

Limoncello also has a small market where you’ll find ice cream, espresso drinks and desserts, as well as items like stuffed shells, lasagna and chicken parmesan, all ready for those looking for a quick meal or treat. .

“It’s a neighborhood restaurant, and I wanted you to feel comfortable here when you walked in,” Hammond says. “I didn’t want this restaurant to be (a place) where you have to come in and sit down and eat. So you can just grab something and leave.”

Those who remember The Playwright and the Broad and River Pub that followed will remember that the bar was a centerpiece of any space before. Now this bar is split in half, sitting in just one of the two main dining areas, but still providing an impressive focal point and a comfortable place to sit.

Bar manager Michael Grantham leads the bar’s program and has created a number of signature cocktails that honor the restaurant’s food, but could also stand out with their own whimsy. The Dario Argento is made with gin, strawberry balsamic reduction, aperol and lemon juice and the Grapparita is made with grappa, homemade limoncello, lemon juice and pineapple.

The bar also serves bottled and draft beer, and the restaurant has a very robust wine list that celebrates the essence of Italy. The menu is made up of around 60 reds and 30 whites, served by the bottle and by the glass and costing on average around $30 a bottle. Choosing was a bit of a passion project for Munnich.

“There are so many different regions in Italy and different styles,” says Munnich. “So we decided to buy the wine that we wanted to sell rather than sell the wine that other people wanted us to buy.”

Beyond the bar, Limoncello is very different from the previous tenant. The space is light and airy, but the rich woods that remain lend comfort. The forward dining area has a more casual atmosphere with large cabins and the bar. While the remote dining room is set up to be a little more night-time with tables covered in white tablecloths and a more intimate feel.

The Larkin team removed the bar from the room, creating a real dining room.

In total, the restaurant can accommodate 125 seats inside, including 22 at the bar, and 50 others outside, with a refurbished patio. The team has created a cozy corner with several water points and an inviting outdoor fireplace even in the middle of the afternoon.

“It’s a neighborhood restaurant,” Hammond repeats. “And I want you to feel comfortable when you walk in.”

Limoncello is now open at 401 River St., Greenville. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Valet parking is available in the evening.

Limoncello is actively recruiting for cook and barista positions. Email to Bob@larkinsontheriver.com

To learn more, visit www.limoncellogvl.com