Italian food in this town is a tough one for me. I complain a lot about this, and am somewhat hesitant about going to new places because of my experiences. I was recently informed I needed to keep a more open mind, so I remembered a few people recommending Iaria’s to me, as well as the fact as it has been in business for like 100 years, so we decided to go. We also had the in-laws with us who tend to like Italian more than we do (at least American Italian) so we thought they would be great companions to help us with the review—maybe not be so jaded.
I love the old school feel of Iaria’s-this was my first visit ever. I was surprised at how small the dining room was for some reason; I thought it would be larger. It was a little annoying that they had no host so we had to wait until one of the servers could get over to us, which took a few minutes because they were very busy. Our “hostess” also ended up being our server, and while she was very busy, she was very friendly and accommodating.
So one of the things that annoys me about most of the Italian restaurants around here is every menu is nearly the same. So I always look for the thing that might be a little different from the others. The starter that appealed to me was the Sicilian caponata with crostini. Caponata here was a rough chop mix of eggplant, celery, tomatoes, capers, and olives which have been cooked til they are soft and served in mostly tangy, slightly sweet vinaigrette. You can get it hot or cold at Iaria’s—we had the hot version. I really really liked this. Well, other than the celery (which was fine, it is just my least favorite of these ingredients), these are some of my favorite ingredients—and what a great mix of salty and tangy with nice toasty bread. Everybody at the table really enjoyed it.
We also had the cheesy garlic bread which was good. Not great or anything, but thick slices of garlicky bread (it had a decent garlic flavor) with a slice of cheese slightly melted on top. It was served with a side of Iaria’s tomato sauce. It was a nice counterpoint to the kick of the caponata, but I would be less inclined to order it again.
Hubby and I also split the garden salad with the homemade Roquefort dressing (you can’t really not get this dressing when it is in bold, large type on the menu). The salad was basic, just some greens, cucumbers and a couple cherry tomatoes and some carrot straws, but the dressing was very tasty. It was so thick though that it was hard to eat it with the salad. There was no way you could pour it on, you just have to dip. My in laws actually got some Italian dressing as well, dressed the leaves with it and then dipped a bit of the Roquefort dressing on. I tried this toward the end and it was a pretty good way to go actually.
I had remembered on one of my posts someone had told me that Iaria’s had good thin crust pizza. So I decided to get a pizza, hubby got the lasagna and we shared. Ok, here’s where it got a little ugly. The pizza was bad. Just plain bad. The crust was crisp, but like a flavorless cracker or something. And nothing on top of the pizza saved it either. The tomatoes weren’t great and the sauce was just ok. I didn’t like this. Hubby promptly concurred with my opinion.
His lasagna was better, but basically reminded me of the kind of lasagna I had growing up that was cooked by my (not Italian) mother. Some layers of noodles, some ricotta that in this case, was very dry and some cooked ground beef that was also a bit dry. I think they make up for a bit of the dryness with the large amount of marinara they pour over the top, but it still didn’t have anything to make it very memorable. It was also not quite warm all the way through which was a little turn off. Actually, if my memory serves, my Mom's is better.
The best thing on the table was my mother-in-law’s grouper piccata. You can get veal, chicken or grouper piccata, and she was a little hesitant about getting fish here, but our server assured her it was very good. She was right. The fish was perfectly cooked. It was lightly floured and sautéed with a lemon butter sauce. If you want capers, that costs an extra 0.50 which I thought was a little odd since piccata normally comes with capers. She threw caution to the wind and got them and they were good (if not necessary). She thought it needed a bit of extra lemon, but I thought it was good as it was. It was best the minute it was served for sure, as it sat, the light crust started to get a little soggy, but of everything we had, it was the best.
My other favorite thing about Iaria’s was that on Thursdays (the night we were there) the wine was 50% off your first bottle, and 25% off the ones after that. So we had a couple of bottles of wine with our dinner at a very reasonable price. But all in all, save for the caponata which I really enjoyed, I can’t say Iaria’s is really changing my mind about Italian food in Indy. So if you have any suggestions, please post a comment or send me an email and let me know!
317 South College Ave