So back to the Italian food quest for a minute. My sister and her husband share birthdays within a couple weeks of each other and they wanted to go back to Iozzo’s to celebrate (they had been, we had not). I was happy to continue with my quest to cross some places off the list, so it was a good choice.
So, I really like the way this place looks—from the outside and the inside. It has a nice independent restaurant feel—the outside looks like it has a lovely outside seating area when the weather is nice (and apparently a back patio area as well) (although the freeway overpass is quite near, might be a little loud out there) and the inside has beautiful exposed brick walls and wood floors. It feels warm and cozy. One of my favorite interiors I’ve seen in Indy in awhile.
We sat down and looked over the rather extensive menu. My sister had already ordered the cheese bread when we got there which is served with fresh marinara ($5). They were slices of bread covered in three cheeses—guessing mozzarella, parmesan and provolone. The bread was soft and the marinara was pretty good—chunky and house made. It had a lot of texture to it, and a slightly sweet taste.
After looking over the other apps, I was immediately drawn to the baked clams ($14) which were on the spring specials menu—featuring mainly seafood and recipes influenced by Sardinia. They were clams that were in the shell and covered in a mixture of bread crumbs, parsley, parmesan garlic, butter, wine and horseradish. I enjoyed the slight heat of the horseradish—and I enjoyed that it was a unique flavor compared to many preparations of clams you might see. The clams were tender and cooked properly. This was probably one of my favorite items of the evening, but not sure how long they will be on the menu since they were a special.
You get a salad with each entrée (although there is an up charge for the Caesar--$3). I went with the house, because I rarely like a Caesar out. I have to say, the salads were a letdown. There was nothing about it that made it good to me—it was just some greens with some tomatoes and cucumber slices and a little shredded parmesan. The dressing was a balsamic, but there wasn’t much on it, and it didn’t impress me. I didn’t eat that much of it. I was glad at least I didn’t pay an extra $3 for the Caesar though, because hubby was even more disappointed with it. The dressing was a vinaigrette, which is probably not really a Caesar dressing as far as I am concerned—it was completely clear. And I am not sure why they charge more for this.
For my main, I had another special, the seafood lasagna ($23). It was described as including lump crab meat, rock shrimp with 5 cheeses, and marinara sauce. So, honestly, other than a teeny bit of crab shell, I had a hard time really tasting much of the seafood in there. It wasn’t much different to me than my brother-in-law’s regular 5 cheese lasagna. It was quite a large portion, and very cheesy. It wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t anything making it jump out at me, particularly in the seafood area. And maybe the marinara was a little overpowering a flavor for the seafood. As a side note though, I will say, my brother in law loves their regular lasagna (which he had that night, and every other time he has been there).
Hubby had the lobster ravioli ($29) which was probably the best entrée on the table. There were little rock shrimp on top, which I always like. Not sure why, but rock shrimp seem hard to overcook and tend to be more tender than a lot of other shrimp at restaurants. The pasta had a homemade tomato cream sauce, which was nice, but not so heavy that it completely overwhelmed the ravioli. I personally would love to see a pasta like this with something like a sage brown butter sauce. Does anyone in Indy do this?
My sister had the stuffed shrimp entrée special ($27) which I had a bite of. It was okay, but it was stuffed with crab cake filling, which is generally not my favorite thing—that kind of heavily seasoned bready stuff with a touch of crab in it. The shrimp were quite large though, and the portion was generous. My sister enjoyed it and told me she thought it was one of the better things she had eaten at Iozzo’s.
We shared several desserts as well. We had the cannoli ($7), the tiramisu ($7), and the chocolate pyramid ($8). The pyramid was my favorite, a chocolate pyramid filled with chocolate mousse and white chocolate crème anglaise in the very center. It was the lightest tasting, but was quite good. The chocolate was delicate and was obviously well served from being kept chilled. The cannoli were also obviously made in advance and chilled, and didn’t benefit so much from it. If they were making them as they were ordered, and the pastry was even just room temperature, (or even better, warm,) they would be quite tasty. But chilling the pastry made them a little chewy (and cold obviously) which detracted from the flavor. The pastry was filled with sweet cream and ricotta cheese, which could have also even benefited a bit from being a little closer to room temp. There were also some little chocolate chips stuck on the end. Of course, I realize this is a hard thing for a busy restaurant to do, pipe cannolis to order, but I am just saying how I think they could have been improved. The tiramisu was probably my least favorite, because honestly, of the bites I had, all I could taste was the espresso used to make them. I realize coffee is part of making tiramisu, but it should be balanced by the other flavors. Part of the problem was it was served in a Champagne flute, so it was hard to really get a handle on how to get a mix of the different things in there.
So all in all, I really like the feel and ambiance of Iozzo’s. It may be one of my top picks in that regard in Indy. The menu is pretty classic Indy-Italian, but I appreciate the special menu which had some unique items on it, some of which were tasty. My guess is if I return, I will likely be continuing to order off the specials menu simply because it is not exactly the same as every other Italian restaurant in town. But….the quest continues.
Iozzo’s Garden of Italy
946 S. Meridian Street