November 19, 2009
It has come to my attention that I have yet to write about L’Italia Pizza & Pasta for dinner. What a shocker since I probably eat there about two times a week. Literally JMU dining halls and this restaurant have been responsible for feeding me this semester. That and Special K Chocolatey Delight — yes, I’m eating some as I type this.
I’m a big critic of a restaurant’s atmosphere. I really feel as though that can make or break a restaurant, regardless of the food. In order to get customers you need to have an inviting space and although L’Italia is located in a shopping center, it manages to offset that with their decor inside. L’Italia has dim lighting (love it), a wine rack hung on the back wall and seasonal decorations. Little things like that seem to bring customers into the restaurant. The owners and staff are always more than welcoming and have obviously formed relationships with the countless locals that come in. All these factors are important, but what keeps customers coming back is the food.
After going to New York this past weekend and foolishly ordering $8 bread, I have now learned not to take L’Italia’s FREE bread for granted. Hot bread knots coated with an olive oil and garlic glaze are served with a cup of homemade marinara sauce. The sauce has garlic in it too, so if you’re on a date I would suggest an after dinner mint (you’re welcome — to you and your date).
Even better, if you ordered one of the entrees (pasta, chicken, veal, seafood) you get your choice of a soup or salad. I always go with the salad mainly because of the house dressing. Red wine vinegar, oil and herbs make up the dressing to go along with the romain and iceberg lettuce, tomato, cheese, carrots and onions (make that two after dinner mints).
For my meal tonight I decided to go with something I have yet to get from the menu. The veal parmesan which comes served with a slice of eggplant and angel hair pasta underneath. Or any pasta you want (spagehetti, whole wheat penne, ziti… or you can get vegetables…SO MANY OPTIONS!)
Oh yes, I should mention that the portions at L’Italia are huge. I have half of this meal now sitting in my fridge. The veal itself is pounded nice and thin and is tender enough to cut with the butter knife. The batter is light and not that crispy fried batter that some Italian food chains seem to favor.The sauce is smooth and not as chunky as the sauce given with the bread.
My friend got the 10″ Mediterranean pizza topped with feta, kalamata olives, diced tomatoe, basil and added BBQ chicken and onions. Her selection of BBQ chicken takes away from the Mediterranean feel but she stuck by her choice and was happy she did.
Walking away stuffed and with food for lunch tomorrow my entree is only $15.95. Now you can see why I and many others keep coming back for dinner..and lunch..and brunch.