Man, is this place popular though—there were 6 of us and we waited at least 40 minutes to be seated and we got there at 5:45! They don’t take reservations at all on the weekends and only for parties of 8 or more during the week. Every square inch of the place was packed with people including the outside area that was heated only with patio heaters (and it was probably about 20 degrees). Luckily we got a seat at the bar and had some wine—and the hostess was very helpful, coming up to us several times to update us on the status of the table that we were waiting on.
Once we were seated in one of the little alcoves that are scattered throughout the house, we were promptly greeted by a very friendly server who brought us drinks and took an appetizer order. They have great bread (for free), and if you get the cheesy bread (an extra charge), it is even better, garlic bread coated with a layer of cheese. (And they will still bring you the free bread as well). We also got the artichoke fritters which are probably my favorite thing on the menu (pictured here). They are little balls of artichoke hearts and goat cheese fried and served with a goat cheese sauce lightly drizzled over the top. I really like these fritters!
Everybody at our table got an entrée except for me; I had the mussels from the antipasto menu. And before I go on, the antipasto menu has lots of things that sound really good. You could make a great meal out of antipasto. The mussels were good—the broth was really good, lots of garlic and chili pepper—had a bit of a kick to it after a few of them. The mussels were a great size (I prefer them small) but I am not sure if they were a little overcooked or a little past their prime, but they were a little, well, soft is the only way I can describe it.
One of the nice things about this place is that every entrée comes with soup or salad. I had some soup and a bite of hubby’s Caesar salad. They were both good. I had the soup of the day, creamy potato with proscuitto—it was tasty. So you can really have a nice meal for a very reasonable price if you want to just get an entrée and the soup or salad. I think the entrees ranged from about $11-20 or so.
Hubby had spinach and cheese ravioli in a pesto cream sauce. It was quite tasty and I liked that the portions aren’t as overwhelming as at most Italian restaurants. I had a sample of several other entrees including the veal saltimbocca and chicken parmesan. The veal was drenched in tomato sauce which detracted from the taste of it. I don’t think saltimbocca is supposed to be covered in tomato sauce and cheese, but hey, everyone has their own recipe I guess. Actually, the chicken was better since it is supposed to have tomato sauce on it and the chicken was perfectly cooked.
The wine list is up my alley, lots of Italian wines, which are some of my favorites. There are a lot of little touches that make the experience a bit nicer than average. They leave water on the table, and a nice jug of olive oil. Also, one of the people in my party wanted me to mention that he was happy that when they refilled his iced tea, that they brought a new glass with a fresh lemon since normally at most places, they just pour you a refill without a fresh lemon.
Overall, this place is a great value and has quite a bit of charm and a friendly staff. The food is pretty good and I would say to date, it is my favorite Italian in Indy (not that I have been to all of them for sure). If you don’t mind a wait, check it out.
1031 East 54th Street
(no website I could find)