Sunday, January 10, 2010

Who Needs Fazoli's?

Polaris Area
December 12, 2009

As per a usual Saturday in December, my husband and I were out and about trying to wrap up some Christmas shopping (pun so intended, so just stop your groaning) :).  We had a Christmas party to get to later in the evening and thought we should try and grab a larger lunch to tide us over since small bites and dessert would only be served later.  We wanted to get away from the craziness of the Polaris mall and decided to go down the street a little to a much quieter strip mall.  We happened to remember we had a coupon for Carfagna's and decided it was the perfect time to use it. 

Now, I drive past Carfagna's Kitchen just about daily, and had wanted to try it; but had seen nothing that was making me rush to get there.  I knew Carfagna's was famous for meat and had loved their store on 161.  However, I was afraid that this place was just going to be another fast food Italian place that would be good, but I could also live without.  The strip mall locale and neon sign outside reminded me just a little too much of a chain.  When I want Italian I want coziness and hidden, hole in the wall mom and pop places.

But boy, am I so thankful that we finally did decide to try it!  Granted this is fast food, but only in the sense that it is ready to go fast and you eat off plastic.  The taste is all homemade, cooked with care and all the loveliness that you would expect from a mom and pop Italian kitchen.

The menu was extensive and it took me a few to decide between pizzas, pastas, traditional chicken and veal dishes, soups, or sandwiches (including subs and paninis).  They really have it all.  Also, many of the menu options were by no means your typical Italian fast food fare.  They had pasta al vodka, gorgonzola fettuccine, shrimp fra diavola, and chicken creamy pesto...just to name a few stand out options.   I finally decided that I was feeling pretty traditional and ordered handmade spaghetti with red sauce and 2 meatballs.  Erik was also feeling traditional and went with the baked meat and cheese lasagna.  Each entree also came with a house salad and breadstick.

The salad was pretty typical with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, croutons, and cucumber.  The Italian dressing was homemade with an olive oil base.  It was a little bit sweeter than many Italian dressings, but I found the sweetness nice.  There were lots of herbs in the dressing to give it flavor, but I really found a fennel flavor to stand out unexpectedly.  Overall, pretty good! 

The breadsticks were also your typical fare.  They had a light garlic flavor and were cooked through.  However, I would have preferred a more browned outside crust. 

The lasagna, however, was out of this world!  It was a huge serving of around 5 layers that held together expertly.  The texture was dense, and because of this all the flavors just seemed to meld seamlessly together.  But even though the lasagna was dense, it wasn't overly heavy (as far as lasagna goes, that is).  The Carfagna high qualify meat flavor definitely shined through.  Well done! 

My spaghetti and meatballs were also great and hit the spot.  You could tell the noodles were homemade with their irregular shape and texture.  They were just a little overdone, for my taste, but not a major complaint.  The sauce had a warm, basilly sweetness, and the meatballs were just what you'd want.  The meat was ground a little more finely than what is typical, but this seemed to help everything bind together. 

For lunch, the serving sizes were pretty big so I ended up only eating half and bringing the rest home for lunch the next day.  I also couldn't pass up trying a chocolate chip cannoli, but had absolutely no room for it.  I had it boxed up for enjoyment later. 

And oh was it good later!  Creamy filling, cinnamon sugar crispy shell, and plenty of chocolate chips to satisfy your need for a bit of bite. 

The only thing I wondered after enjoying all this bounty was that if this quality of Italian food can be ready to go so fast, what in the world are Fazoli's and Sbarro doing?  And why are we eating there?  Next time you need a quick Italian fix please support homemade and local, and go with Carfagna's.  I'm pretty sure you won't regret it. 

Bill total:  2 soft drinks, 1 lasagne, 1 handmade spaghetti and meatballs, 1 cannoli (with a buy one get one free Entertainment book coupon): $16.08

Overall Rating:  4 buckeyes

Carfagna's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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