Sunday, June 28, 2009

Iaria's Italian

Iaria's has been on our list of places to go for quite some time. Between the long running history (since 1933), being featured on Food Network(on Best Of) and the slew of positive reviews, we were very psyched to sample their authentic Italian dishes.

Walking in we were immediately impressed by the down-home kitchy atmosphere. We felt we might as well be in a neighborhood Italian restaurant deep in a New York city burrough. It was packed. We arrived around 7pm on a Tuesday and things were hoppin'. Always a good sign. We were seated immediately.

Assuming the dinner rush was to blame, our waitress was MIA for quite some time, but we took the opportunity to study the menu and plan our course of action. For Ozzy, the kids pasta with butter was a must...per Ozzy. An appetizer of Mate's Mozz had to follow as we longed to find the same incredible fried cheesiness we once experienced in college at Mustard's oh so many years ago. Fred was feeling the bolognese pasta made with beef, yeah! Libby must try the chicken marsala at any first time Italian experience.

When our waitress was finally able to assist us, we ordered the half carafe of chianti...quite a deal at $12 that ended up being about 4 glasses of wine! She also brought out sliced Italian bread (yummy) with butter and explained that we could get either homemade Italian sausage or the meatball with our entrees, minestrone soup, salad, and the marsala could come with spaghetti. Ozzy doesn't eat meat, so Libby ordered the meatball with his entree to be sampled. Fred went with the Italian sausage and Libby opted to up her house salad to a caesar.

The salads were your basic, not so exciting variety. In fact, Libby just plain did not like the caesar. Fred was totally not impressed. We did see a antipasto salad walk by and it looked damn good with eggs and meats piled high. But we were still looking forward to the entrees to come.

The Mate's Mozzarella came out next. An entire ball of mozzarella is sliced, breaded in Italian breadcrumbs and fried in olive oil. Sounds amazing, but was only ok. Gooey and not quite crispy enough, but the saving grace was the wonderful marinara that accompanied it. It needed the marinara. It was sweet with lots of Oregano and heavy on the white wine. It made all the difference.

The food came out fairly quickly and was a smorgasbord of pasta and meats! Plenty of food. Fred's portion of bolognese was quite impressive. He immediately started to ooo and ahhh after the first mouthful. Libby was confused by the marinara on her spaghetti. She had a perfectly good amount of yummy marsala sauce with her chicken that was dying to be sopped up by plain spaghetti. This combo was going to be confusing. Ozzy dove into his buttery pasta with some parmesan and concentrated intently for the remainder of the meal.

Fred was unimpressed with the soup. Libby concurred. It was bland and oddly, we both went for the pepper shaker at the same time...doesn't happen at restaurants much. The bolognese with capellini was meaty with plenty of shank within the sauce to combine with the pound or so of pasta on Fred's plate. It had obviously been many, many hours in the preparation and would stand up to any sauce Mama could make. The Italian sausage was also homemade contained an equal amount of love...finely minced and tender with a delicate flavor.

Libby was glad to see the enormous portion of chicken and marsala before her, but as she couldn't mix her spaghetti with it, decided to add Ozzy's meatball to the marinara and see how it fared. Not so good. This is a real problem with so many Italian restaurants. Not sure if it's advanced preparation or what, but there is literally no flavor. Just a ball of meat. So disappointing as Libby loves a good meatball. The marinara it came with was ok but had an odd cloviness. The positive thing was the chicken. Well prepared, with ample yummy mushroomy goodness.

It didn't take long before the FLO were filled to the brim. These folks are not going to let anyone go home hungry! Plenty of food to take home as well.

Wrap Up
Price- $$$, For a family friendly, low key dining experience, you did pay for the quantity of food you received. Although the wine prices are phenomenal!
Atmosphere-***, It's the original atmosphere that so many chains aim for and miss.
Service-*-**, For us, it was a disappointment. Not only was our waitress unavailable most of the evening, but she seemed "over it" and unaccommodating.

Fred -C+, When I could make one of your signature appetizers at home and do it better, it's a disappointment. But I will say there is no way I could make a sauce anywhere near that good!
Libby -B-, I had high expectations going in. Not a total disappointment by any means, but with the history and hype, I expected to be blown out of my seat. It was a good meal. For the price, I really feel there should have been homemade pastas all around.
Ozzy - A, Great, family-friendly atmosphere. He loved the Italian bread and dug into the buttery pasta.

Iaria's Italian on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Broad Ripple Rose said...

I ate at Iaria's years ago and my experience was almost identical to yours :/ I haven't been back since.