Iaria’s has been around since 1933. So don’t expect Fusion or Cuisine Minceur when you go. What you will get is Old School Italian dishes from very Old School recipes.
The establishment is composed of a dining room and a bar room that has several tables and booths.
They use plenty of glass blocks in their decor. I think the blocks are great. They were out of favor for a while but they are making a comeback,from what I hear. Iaria’s had them before they were cool.
As soon as Pat and I decided on Iaria’s we both started having a “taste” for Italian. Pat Alfredo me Piccata,with capers. I had it on good authority they offer an outstanding version with grouper. Pat stayed with his first thoughts,after much rumination. As for me as soon as I walked into the aroma of fresh bread,tomatoes and garlic I knew it had to be red sauce and red wine.
Pat and I decided to split a half carafe of Malbec for $15, good for 3 glasses,but actually a bit more. It was really a pretty good wine choice. Pat decided on it because he abhors whites. I would have been happy with that or Cab. Once I decided to go red it was an easy decision for my lunch. Spaghetti with red sauce and a meatball. For a 75 cent up charge I got a link of their homemade Italian sausage. Both of our lunches came with a soup or salad choice. Pat;obviously chose salad. I chose a cup of the homemade Minnestroni soup.
It was pretty good,not outstanding,but good. They also had a SOD; a chicken gnocchi. In the future I will give the SOD a try. As for the main course it was what you would expect from folks that have made sauce for so many years. While some red sauces are too sweet or too tart. Too thin or too thick. Or too much or too little. This was Goldilocks “Just Right”. The amount was enough to wet the pasta, enough leg to properly coat and just enough sweetness to whet the appetite and not sate it.
As for the star of the show,the meatball. It was expertly seasoned and nicely formed. It may have had a bit too much compaction for my tastes. But different boats etc. This brings us to the sausage. Now this was a wonderful sausage. A great fennel presence with a touch of crushed red pepper for some heat. I think the sausage stands right up their with any I have eaten
Both of are lunches were about $8 with soup or salad and a basket of homemade bread and butter. They also offer pizza and sandwiches. I think the most expensive lunch item was the Grouper Piccata for $11.95. They do a very brisk lunch business with lots of regulars and I can see why. Cozy surroundings,very good food and charming and friendly service. Worth a visit.
Here is a link to their website
http://www.iariasrestaurant.com/ Since Zomato seems to have fallen down on the job.
Sometimes a body just needs some pasta. That was the mood I was in when I suggested to Pat that we have a go at the Milano Inn. It had been several years since either one of us had been there. I had heard that they had under gone some major redecoration and I also read that they offer a Lunch Buffet on Wednesday through Friday, And the buffet offers fried chicken!
To me both of these are comfort foods. Pasta and fried chicken. Toss in a meatball or two and I am set.
The salad mix they use is a basic iceberg with a touch of red cabbage and carrot for color. They offered a nice array of toppings as well as cottage cheese and both macaroni and potato salad. They also had cucumber and onion in a sweet vinegar, something you don’t see too often anymore. The ready-made salads were a touch sweet for me but all in all it was a very nice spread.
On the hot line they had a very nice display of food. Mostaccioli in pesto, Penne Primavera, and of course lasagna. In addition they offered a potato dish and meatballs. It was a really nice little buffet, with a very good selection for $10.
I thought they did a decent job with their food. The sausage in the lasagna was pretty good but the sauce had a slight tinny taste. The meatballs were good as was the chicken and noodles. I think the chicken was very nicely done. The breaded was a touch salty to me, but I am pretty sensitive to salt. It doesn’t take a bunch to satisfy me.
As you can see I over did my trip to the salad. I was able to finish it all but I barely had room for dessert. And I definitely did not have room for seconds at the hot line.
Now I am pretty sure these cookies are of the slice and bake variety but I thought they were pretty good. Heck I ate 4 of them. Peanut butter and chocolate chip. Both soft and chewy.
This dark square hovering over this white saucer is actually a dark chocolate frosting on top of a white cake. The icing was like that you would find on a Boston Cream Pie. Pretty tasty.
So two thumbs up to Milano. Don’t expect homemade pasta on the buffet but if you want an honest and tasty lunch I don’t think you can go wrong. They also had a Minnestrone soup, which I didn’t get a chance to try. Which makes me eager to go back. I would also like to try some of their made to order dishes. And a 10 buck buffet just can not be ignored.
Well South of Chicago, take notice there is a Hoosier right here in Naptown that cooks a pretty mean hunk of beef. The Fresco Italian Sandwich Shoppe actually has 2 locations. One in the Marsh Grocery at 320 N. New Jersey and the other at 310 W. Michigan. On the canal. Since it was raining we opted for the New Jersey location. The joint has only been opened about three years. It is run by 2 brothers using their Dad’s recipes. And these recipes are golden. Their signature Italian beef is easily as tasty as South of Chicago’s. Fresco might have a slight edge in that they offer their sandwiches as a 4 inch half or an 8 inch whole.
We started off splitting a small Caprese Salad. He uses Roma tomatoes from a local Farmers Market, uses a local Mozzarella cheese and grows his own Basil. So needless to say the salad was fresh and delicious.
I was torn between the beef and the meatball. The owner suggested I get the beef and he would give us a sample of meatball to try. So how could I not accept such a generous offer. Again all I can say is the beef is easily as tasty as South of Chicago. On that Pat and I were in agreement. He “discovered” this place when he was shopping and had already tried a half of a beef sandwich. I might suggest you get yours dipped. The Gonnella bun soaks up all the tasty jus and still keeps its shape. A lesser roll would dissolve. As for the meat ball and accompanying red sauce it too was excellent, and on the same level as the beef.
So I can’t think of anymore to add. Except this. If you like Good Italian Beef now you have a second place to score. In addition if Caprese or meatballs are your thing then this has to be at the top of your list.