Mention “Joe’s Italian Kitchen” to just about anyone in the High Country, both locals and guests, and you’ll be answered with knowing smiles, nods, and a retelling of favorite dishes. Joe Cafaro has owned and operated this High Country landmark for almost 12 years, and just last month, he launched the all-new “Joe’s Jazzed Up”, right next door to the original Joe’s Italian Kitchen.
My companion and I were greeted at the door by Joe himself. He escorted us to our table where the rest of my family was waiting, pulled out my chair for me, and placed our napkins on our laps. The menu is specialized to just higher-end dishes, and every one is delicious. My favorite Italian meal is Chicken Parmigana, and this was unquestionably the best I’ve ever had.
The chicken wasn’t served on a bed of spaghetti noodles as most other places. Rather, it was presented with the sides of the night: a rice pilaf and steamed broccoli in a lime horseradish sauce. They were delicious accompanying notes to the song of the perfectly cooked chicken, together making a beautiful melody of flavors.
My companion ordered Spinach Ravioli, which came out arranged neatly and covered in the sauce of the night: an alfredo-style sauce with prosciuotto and peas.
My mom opted for the spinach gnocchi, also in the same sauce as the ravioli.
I was told they were also delicious. I was too engrossed in my Parmigana heaven to try anyone else’s dishes.
After a meal like that, we of course had to check out the dessert menu. My sister and I both opted for the Death By Chocolate, a confection best described as a loaf of chocolate cake with chocolate pudding in it, a hard-shell chocolate ganache on top, and crowned with a few mini chocolate chips and a drizzle of chocolate syrup- essentially, heaven on my plate. A dollop of whipped cream was beside it, and even the whipped cream was homemade, rather than that oil-based stuff from a tub.
My companion opted for the homemade tiramisu, and pronounced it the best tiramisu he’s ever encountered. I suspect he & I will be going back sometime for dessert. Other offerings on the menu included cheesecake, both Italian-style and New York-style, cannoli, and more. Honestly, I was too engrossed in my chocolate heaven to remember the other selections.
The service was outstanding. Joe himself waited on us hand & foot part of the time, and his head dining room waitress took excellent care of us the rest of the time. I’m a bit of a camel when dining out, but I have to give credit where credit is due- my glass never went below half full. She was very friendly and knowledgeable of the menu, even offering her suggestions and recommendations.
The atmosphere of the restaurant is cozy and intimate. It’s a small place- a maximum capacity of 44 patrons, and the ambiance includes evening lighting, jazz music playing overhead, and memorabilia of famous jazz-era entertainers lining the walls. Some evenings will feature High Country musician Blake Pace playing live jazz. There is a selection of wines and beer available to enjoy with your meal. Also, for those with dietary needs, Joe’s Jazzed Up offers gluten-free pasta and has a great selection of vegetarian dishes.
Joe has taken his years of experience of creating excellent Italian meals and has truly created an upscale dining experience unique to the High Country. If you’ve come to know and love Joe’s Italian Kitchen, be sure to check out Joe’s Jazzed Up for your next evening out!
UPDATE: SADLY, IN A GREAT LOSS TO THE HIGH COUNTRY, JOE HAS CLOSED DOWN BOTH JOE’S ITALIAN KITCHEN AND JOE’S JAZZED UP.
$-$$ (entrees start of $14 per plate)
Where Is It
190 Boone Heights Drive
Boone, NC 28607
Reservations are recommended due to the small size of the restaurant, and the dress code is business casual.
All text and photos copyright 2012 Cassandra Hartley, Blue Ridge NC Guide. No portion of this article is to be copied, saved, or otherwise distributed without express written consent. Sharing is encouraged using the designated social media sharing buttons at the bottom of this article. Photos for this post provided by our sister site Photos by Cassandra Lea. Author received no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this article.