Sunday night is date night at Rinata in Minneapolis


So, where do you like to go when you don’t feel like cooking? I don’t mean special occasion places, just places where you can have an enjoyable dining experience without spending an arm and a leg.

Last Sunday, we got into another one of those Sunday night situations where we just got back into town, and it’s 8 p.m., and neither of us feels like cooking (which sort of makes it sound like we both do the cooking, but actually, Carol does 99 percent of the cooking), so, we decide we’re going to dine out, which leads to the “where do you feel like going?” phase of the conversation, which can usually last for a good 20 minutes to half an hour.

One thing we didn’t want to do is have spend $80 for a just-okay-nothing-special small plate dinner for two like we did the other night at a wine bar in our neighborhood. (All the way home, I kept thinking, we could have gone to Rincon 38. We seem to be having that experience a lot lately.)

Then, all of a sudden, Carol comes up with a brilliant idea: how about Rinata? They do that $20 per person four-course date-night thing on Sunday nights.

And so we did. For starters, Carol chose the Bruschetta with grilled calamari arugula, aioli, and preserved lemon (a delightful combination of fresh and crisp and tender and tart) while I had the seared halibut cake with capers aioli and lemon (some similar flavors, but a very different effect). Next round: a choice of Caesar with romaine hearts, garlic pepper croutons, and parmesan; or arugula with kalamata olives, cucumber, feta, and red wine vinaigrette, both light and refreshing.

For the pasta entree, Carol opted for the vegetarian papardelle with zucchini squash, mascarpone and truffle oil, a sublimely rich and delicate combination. I was sorely tempted by the maltagliati with braised pork roasted mushrooms rapini and au jus, but in the end chose the subtle but richly flavorful roasted red pepper risotto with smoked trout roasted sweet corn and chive oil.

The final choice was between a house-made caramel sea salt gelato, and a first-rate tiramisu. You couldn’t go wrong with either one. The Sunday night menu changes from week to week, but they post it on their Facebook page, so you can check online before you go.

Read Rincón 38: Terrific tapas in South Minneapolis (Jeremy Iggers, March 2013)