When my dining partner and I decided that we had a craving for genuine Mom and Pop Italian food we said "Why go to the chain Restaurants, let's try an old favorite that's been around for decades." As we walked in the Restaurant we were seated promptly by the friendly host and felt at home in a cozy booth in a comfortable, clean dining room featuring murals, soft colors, stained glass chandeliers and the expected Red Checkered Tablecloths. The only thing missing were the chianti bottle candles!
Nino's menu has all of the traditional favorites as well as some imaginative ones thrown in for good measure. Our friendly efficient waitress greeted us warmly and brought our beverages quickly. She then shortly brought out a basket of warm tasty garlic rolls. These are a bit lighter than the usual garlic rolls and are brushed with a garlic butter/oil with herbs. There is a choice of soup or salad with the entrees and we opted for tossed salads. These were the basic side salads of iceberg, tomatoes, grated carrots and purple cabbage. They were basic and exactly what one would expect in this kind of Restaurant. The Italian dressing was quite good. Our entrees followed. My dining partner had the Chicken Francaise which is egg battered breasts sauteed and served in a lemon sauce. I had the Chicken Cacciatore which I have been eating at this restaurant for years and is an old favorite of mine. The chicken francaise was tender and had a good flavor but could have benefited from a bit more lemon to our taste. My chicken cacciatore was loaded with chunks of tomato, onions and green peppers and tasted very fresh. The chicken was tender and there was a nice touch of garlic but they used to be more generous with the black olives. There was barely any in the dish and the olives are the main reason this dish has always been a favorite of mine. Perhaps next time I'll simply ask for extra olives. The entrees were served with a side of pasta. They give a choice of the type of pasta and sauce. We chose the linguine and spaghetti marinara which were basic and al dente. We prefer to have our pasta served with the dish and not as a side dish as this is more authentic.
The pacing of the meal was good but our waitress served our entrees before we were finished with our salads. My dining partner and I always dislike this practice when we dine out. The dining room had roughly six tables and it was early in the evening so why are they rushing the food out at such a quick pace? We did not understand. The portions are huge and you will easily have enough left over for another meal. We followed up with tiramisu for dessert which was served in a plastic cup and obviously not house made and was just ok. The ladyfingers needed a bit more espresso but the mascarpone custard topping was very good as well as the dusting of cocoa. The coffee was fresh and strong and our waitress cheerfully kept our cups filled.
Nino's has a full bar and a large menu of all the traditional favorites. Their pricing is comparable to other locally owned restaurants. The over all quality is higher than most franchises but perhaps not as high as other locally owned restaurants we have tried.
We did conclude that compared to the chain restaurants we received much more for our dining dollar and we prefer to patronize local businesses. We look forward to dining again at Nino's and would recommend it to our friends.