We've been to Acqua -White Bear Lake several times and it remains my current favorite Italian spot! Knowing how much we enjoy the WBL location we were looking forward to a visit to this sister venue and when looking for a spot for Sunday brunch in that area it was the first place that came to mind and made reservations for 5 online.
The Forest Lake location of Acqua is on the opposite side of the lake from the DT area reached by a nice leisurely drive by all of the lakeside homes. The building itself is very nice and inviting, rather on the larger side with separate dining (3 including the outside patio mostly lakeside) areas and a really nice bar area, all outfitted in “waterside” casual elegant colors and décor reminiscent of the US east coast. They have valet parking so the parking lot thru access was blocked off although there was no valet attendant; lot was nearly empty so no big deal. When we went inside the Hostess inquired regarding our preference for inside or out on the patio, I went for the patio unfortunately the only spots open were in full sunlight or with a view of the parking lot, so we opted for inside. The hostess said I have a very nice table for you (there was only one other table occupied all the time we were there in the dining area we were in) and she sat the 5 of us at a round table by the fireplace which was nice except it was right next to the kitchen service door which was annoying and continued to be so as we had brunch due to the banter and staff antics just inside the door. I wanted to get up and remind them that there were patrons 10 feet away that can hear every word that they were saying and hear everything that they were doing. The table was quite large and the chairs were very comfortable as we lingered for nearly 2 hours.
Food wise was perhaps the most disappointing part of our experience, (again as compared to the WBL location where the food we have had has been very good to extraordinary!). It was a set Brunch menu served family style except for your choice of an egg dish. First course is scones and muffins which were good but not anything special, a simple starter course. Second course, served family style was vesuvio hash browns (no idea why they are called vesuvio, I looked it up and only found reference to perhaps herbed potatoes) they were served pie style and as far as I could tell they were just hash browns with spinach in them, light on seasoning and slightly overcooked so the crust was too hard instead of delicately crispy they definitely looked excellent but the taste just did not deliver. The italian sausage and applewood smoked bacon was good but nothing special, the pasta dish was very good - nice seasoning and the pesto/lemon/cream sauce was very tasty and pleasing, same with the chopped green salad, it was not just dumped in a bowl but it was prepared nicely and the dressing was excellent. Our server, when I was having trouble deciding between the Poached eggs with spicy pulled pork (this was a very nice dish with just enough, but not too much spice, and an unusual savory hollandaise on top, really enjoyed this preparation) and the spinach and goat cheese frittata suggested I just get both, an excellent compromise I thought so I did, others at the table ordered the tomato frittata with basil and mozzarella, (both frittata were major disappointments, skinny on the ingredients, very overcooked almost rubbery and no seasoning, I did not even eat mine, had to go home and make one for myself the next day to get satisfied) and standard scrambled or sunny side up eggs (prepared and cooked very nicely). Third course was crepes with banana, chocolate, nutella and hazelnut. Very good although I would have preferred smaller slices of banana that were caramelized more thoroughly, I did have seconds though and cleaned my plate.
Price at $16.95 each was reasonable for the menu although higher than I liked for the quality. Being that they are pretty new I would try them again but not for the brunch, that ship sailed, but definitely for the dinner which is what attracted me in the first place, as they get the bugs out I’m sure that they will measure up better to their FL location. Final thoughts, brunch - thumbs down, location and ambiance has real potential, work some bugs out, service a little rough around the edges but enthusiastic, passionate, strives to please - thumbs up, overall I’m willing to wait and see, my suggestion go there experience it for yourself for a nice romantic dinner but skip a brunch outing. Don’t forget to report back and when we go back for dinner I’ll re-visit and update my assessment and review – Buon Appetito