BG EATS: Pubbin’, grubbin’, glugging’ at Novo Dolce

Blue and Swiss sandwich with a side of roasted tomato and red pepper soup at Novo Dolce Gastro Pub, located at 651 31-W Bypass. Alyssa Pointer/HERALD

John Greer

By virtue of its name, Novo Dolce Gastro Pub sets a high bar, and it almost reaches it. The recently reopened restaurant traded its former location and former espresso bar reputation for a different scene, populated by an extensive beer list, craft cocktails and sophisticated pub fare.

A gastro pub is a European creation, a portmanteau of the words ‘gastronomy’ and ‘pub.’ Restaurants that choose to bear the name invite an expectation that they offer both high-quality food and drink.

Novo Dolce’s appearance hits the mark, as a combination of an upscale bar and European bistro. A mostly black interior and exposed pipes give the restaurant a modern, big-city vibe.

Unfortunately, the overall atmosphere doesn’t quite match. The soundtrack seems to be made up of alternative ‘90s hits. While this might make the restaurant friendly to families and nostalgic 20-somethings, it’s a somewhat jarring contrast to the interior design.  

As for the food, Novo Dolce’s menu presents a lot of promise.

The house-fried rosemary garlic chips with green chili ketchup present interesting flavor combinations. The spicy, vinegary ketchup gives the savory chips a well-needed kick to go with their crunch. They are good, if not spectacular.

One of the primary pub foods, a grilled cheese, is given an update here.The Blue and Swiss sandwich comes with both cheeses, as well as arugula, tomato, apple slices and an orange Dijon mayo. Like the chips, the combination is a slightly more refined take. The bread is delightfully crunchy. The apple slices and a hint of orange citrus give it a delicate and fruity note.  

Disappointingly, the tiny dribbles of blue cheese and a layer of half-melted Swiss fall victim to the beefy tomato slice and leave it feeling less like a grilled cheese than it should. It is certainly not bad, but it needs more of the main ingredients.

Novo Dolce’s mixology chops ultimately go untested, at least for now. By the looks of the bar, which is backed by a sleek wooden shelf laden with an array of liquors, it certainly looks worth a try.

Novo Dolce is very close to fulfilling its potential. In its current state, it’s still deserving of a visit.  Just a slight tweaking of ingredients and more ambitious drive for flavor could make all the difference.