Chef Derick Wade Of Kiawah Island's Tomasso Adds A Hint Of Southern Flair To Italian Classics

Tomasso is an Italian restaurant located in the clubhouse of the Jack Nicklaus-designed Turtle Point Golf Course, which is part of the sprawling Kiawah Island Golf Resort just outside Charleston, South Carolina. Kiawah is an exclusive, gated community, and the Kiawah Island Golf Resort is home to the legendary Sanctuary, a luxurious oceanfront hotel and resort. Tomasso's location in a golf clubhouse on a quiet residential island about a 45-minute drive from downtown Charleston (and about a 15-minute drive from the Sanctuary and its fantastic restaurants) means that it's not exactly well-known, but on Kiawah it's earned a group of loyal regulars and it's worth a visit just to sample the cooking of its chef, Derick Wade.

Wade grew up in the area but spent time cooking in Russia, Alaska, Hawaii, and Bulgaria, and that experience gives him a decidedly global approach to cooking Italian dishes using South Carolina ingredients. The appetizer section of his menu is pretty straightforward — caprese, frito misto, mussels with a white wine broth and house-made sausage — but once you move along, you get a sense of Wade's creativity: house-made porcini chitarra with local oyster mushrooms, cippolini, guanciale and brown butter; slow-braised short rib bucatini with sweet corn, cipollini, charred scallions and pecorino; seared duck breast with confit leg, local honey, sweet potato puree, carrots, raspberry vincotto and onion rings.

We had the opportunity to visit the restaurant for ourselves, and really enjoyed Wade's cooking. That duck dish was perfectly cooked with nicely rendered skin and a fruity sweet-sourness from the vincotto, and we also enjoyed a special appetizer of octopus with roasted peppers, purple potato, almond romesco, and chimichurri; the octopus was incredibly tender and wasn't overwhelmed by any of the accompaniments.

There also wasn't much to dislike about a flat-iron steak atop a creamy Parmesan fonduta; it was rich but not overwhelmingly so, and a total flavor bomb.

Tomasso may be out of the way, and the dining room could use some freshening-up. That said, our server was very professional and friendly, the restaurant has an upscale, country-club kind of atmosphere, and we really enjoyed Wade's cooking. We won't be surprised in the least if he goes on to open a Charleston restaurant of his own.

The meal that was the subject of this review was provided at no cost to the author.