Monday, May 5, 2014

DeCarlo's Restaurant Food Review

Margherita Pizza

Italian food has come a long way in the past quarter of a century; although you'd never know it, visiting DeCarlo's Restaurant in AU Park. Don't get me wrong... DeCarlo's is a nice place, serving nice food. Just don't expect anything close to "modern Italian" when you step inside. DeCarlo's is the kind of restaurant that never changes; and while that's comforting in some ways, it begs the question... What happens when all its' regulars "move on?"

It's a valid question, as the average age of DeCarlo's lunch patrons on my most recent visit hovered at or above 80. Two minutes after we were seated, an elderly woman tumbled to the ground mere inches from our table. As I went to help her, I was scolded by another, "She knows how to get up!" Something tells me this wasn't her first rodeo, yet alone her first fall. Notwithstanding all that excitement, DeCarlo's is comfortable yet dated. They still have thin, boxed breadsticks in glass cups at each table... for decoration only. More importantly, they have old-fashioned service that never goes out of style; although our primary server was far from friendly. Everyone else (the hostess, busboys, etc.) couldn't have been nicer.

Complimentary Bread & Butter

As for atmosphere... the dining room is nice and spacious, with a row of comfortable booths; but you can't escape the feeling that you're getting old, just sitting inside. Part of me liked it, but the reality is... DeCarlo's needs some kind of update. At least you can take your parents (or grandparents) here, and make a fine impression. True to form, they deliver a nice basket (yes, literally a basket) of Italian bread and butter; and offered no argument to a request for seconds. Both the bread and butter were good quality.

My cousin Dean ordered Lasagna Bolognese (a relatively small portion for $15... pricier than most) while I opted for a Margherita pizza (Mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, fresh basil, and olive oil... affordably priced at just $11.) Service is quick, and I was quite pleased with my pizza. It looked dated too, but was nicely-sized with a generous amount of gooey cheese and rich sauce. I prefer basil leaves versus the thin (rather flavorless) strands DeCarlo's uses, but I'd be happy to order this pie again.

It's been about 20 years since my first visit (DeCarlo's has been here for over 30) and I must admit... there's something comforting about seeing it here, especially with so many other businesses closing around it (Chicken Out, Super Fresh... even the AU Law School is moving down the street soon.) Hopefully it won't be another two decades before my next visit. Perhaps some much needed cosmetic changes will hasten my return.