Monday, August 9, 2010

Iaria's

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!

Iaria’s
317 South College Ave
Indy 46202
317/638-7706
www.iariasrestaurant.com

Iaria's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

15 comments:

  1. I think you should try Matteo's in Noblesville. That is the best Italian food I have had in Indiana. My girlfriend and I went there for our 1 year anniversary on the recommendation of one of my friends. She had veal and I had bolognese, and we both agreed that it was special and better than the Italian we were used to.

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  2. Have you tried Iozzo's (on Meridian)? I've only been there once, but it was pretty good from what I thought!

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  3. Iaria's is really "old-school" American Italian. I find it to be a real meatballs and red sauce kind of place, although I've had the veal parmigiana which was OK. I'm sure there are a lot of places with more authentic Italian, but Iaria's is kind of like Indy's comfort-Italian place.

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  4. We grew up eating at Iaria's because that was where my dad hung out as a teenage hoodlum back in the 50s. Having only been back there recently as an adult, it's okay. I readily admit I am no authority on dining - I like what I like. Sal's in Plainfield and Brownsburg is pretty good, but not sure it would merit the drive from your side of town.

    I remember Italian Gardens on the eastside as good, but that was many moons ago.

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  5. You really, really must get to Matteo's if you want good Italian. It has ruined all other Italian restaurants for me. It is worth it just for the bread they serve alone.

    And Noblesville isn't really as far of a drive as most people think. Just 20 minutes from downtown Indy.

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  6. Jessica in NoblesvilleAugust 9, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    I second, third, fourth and fifth Matteo's! Of course they have some of the basics, but they're also different. I almost always order from their nightly specials, which is where you'll hear about their daily lasagna. Their veal, lamb and beef dishes are always tender and tasty. Seafood specials have also been great, cooked properly with delicious sauces. I've had some of the best ever mushroom soups here, too. I really hope you like it as much as the rest of us.

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  7. wow, you guys are serious about this Matteo's place huh? :)

    Becky- So funny you reminded me of Italian Gardens--that was one of my parents favorite places when I was little. I used to go there a lot. I remember they had (have?) a little fountain that I used to throw pennies in)...

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  8. I agree about the lack of quality Italian (not Italian-American) restaurants in Indy, I really miss Lidia's in Kansas City and wish we had something like that here! Oh, and the same goes for the French bistro-type places, too, I totally agree with your comment on this the other day. There are lots of good restaurants in Indy, but we are sadly lacking in those two categories here.

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  9. Something a little different - the gelato shop in Clay Terrace (Gelato da Vinci) has started offering sit-down meals featuring Italian dishes. Of course, I'm a Midwestern boy at heart, so my idea of "Italian" is "I can't pronounce half the dishes". But I had the Bianco flatbread appetizer and Chicken Mushroom Fettucine entree last night and it was good. Maybe something different for you to try...

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  10. Erin...keep in mind that Matteo's is the brother of Capri... same family.

    With that being said, I am a great cook and my brother...is a great brother! So not sure if you can draw that line.

    I have heard a lot of good things about Matteo's and would like to try it soon.

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  11. I haven't had any real good experiences at Matteo's, although I haven't gone back in a while. I posted about it in the comments sections of Erin's post about Amalfi's: https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7700721558717637465&postID=4820812793000170824

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  12. I like the fact that someone mentioned Sal's. If you have a yen for Italian on the Southside, I would suggest Vito's, Napoli Villa in Beech Grove and Augustino's.

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  13. thanks erin, go to myfavoriteitalianrestaurant .com for a true italian experience. Indys best kept secret .

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  14. I agree with Vince, Vito Provolone's on South Meridian, or Augustino's off S Emerson near Greenwood. If your up for a drive, go south on S. Meridian to Bargersville, it is right on the highway at thw stoplight. Italian family owns and cooks, best ever!! Most unexpected

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  15. I grew up in St Louis with great Italian restaurants everywhere. Needless to say I wasn't impressed with Matteo's.

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Thanks, Erin