100 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202
Lunch: $$ Entrees for $9 – $13
Aria Tuscan Grill sits in downtown Charlotte, within a stone’s throw of the Epicenter outdoor shopping center. Inside, everything feels very upbeat and new. You’ll enter off Tryon Street and walk a few steps down to the main floor of the restaurant, giving you the feeling of many NY or Chicago restaurants where you feels as if you’re eating at basement level. They’ve done a great job making the restaurant feel open, with large windows at street level, and successfully giving the space a very upscale bistro feel inside.
The best deal in the house is the $8.99 “Express Lunch,” allowing you one of two salads, one of 5 or 6 main courses and then a dessert–making it a pretty unbeatable deal for lunch in downtown Charlotte. All of the choices sounded great, but instead, I went with the POACHED SALMON SALAD ($13). It is served over a salad of Kalamata olives, lettuce, feta cheese, red onions, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, then dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. I ordered my salmon as medium rare and found it to be cooked perfectly. Poaching it helps to stay away from all of the oil and/or butter needed for baking or sautéing and made it very moist. The actual salad portion was a little small but satisfactory. All-in-all, it was a very light, refreshing dish–a perfect lunch portion.
BOTTOM LINE: Looking for a good lunch place in Charlotte? Make sure to give Aria a shot. I can’t wait to give it a try for dinner.