We embarked on a tour of indianapolis restaurants earlier this year to explore places we had not eaten for each letter of the alphabet. Last week we visited Mama Carolla's in Broad Ripple for our letter M. We had heard that if you want to experience authentic Italian Mama Carolla's was a great restaurant but if you want an innovative new spin on Italian cuisine, look elsewhere.
I'll start with some background: the restaurant has been open in a renovated house since 1997. An important note is the reservation protocol which does not allow reservations for parties of less than 6Tuesday to Thursday and does not take reservations of any kind on Friday and Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday).
The first thing that stood out as we approached the restaurant from the rear parking lot was the beautiful outdoor seating area. We would have loved to sit outside on most any night but it was windy enough we choose to go inside. It's important to point out that the restaurant is a renovated house that makes for a charming space but a quick updating by removing plastic flowers and cat pitchers on the shelf over our table would make a positive difference.
The wine list was very approachable and we ordered a Monsanto Chianti Classico that was well priced but perhaps served a bit warm. For starters we ordered the fried mozzarella and garlic cheese bread. The mozzarella was very good topped with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. The bread was a bit more confusing. It was a round loaf that had slits cut in it with the cheese placed on the top. The top of the bread was fairly tasty but this left a large portion of bread beneath with no seasoning, garlic or cheese.
To accompany out main course I ordered the Italian wedding soup which had great flavor but slightly unconventional thin short noodles. My wife got the Caesar salad which had good flavor but was rather heavy with dressing.
For the entrees my wife ordered the veal Parmesan with angel hair pasta but I was enticed by the special for the night, blackened pork tenderloin with local corn and tomatoes and Tuscan mashed potatoes. The interesting part about these entrees was they set the expectations I mentioned earlier on its ear because the traditional Italian veal dish felt heavy and should have been more delicate. The pork was a perfect medium (as ordered) and was the highlight of the entire meal. So while blackened pork tenderloin feels more Cajun than Italian it was a delicious way to showcase local produce. Keith our server was great and I have him to thank for steering me towards the special. We'll definitely be back and hopefully the weather will cooperate so we can sit outside.
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1031 E 54th Street
Indianapolis, IN 462/0