Monday, January 31, 2011

Iaria's: It may rhyme with "diarrhea's," but don’t hold that against it.

I have a real soft spot for Iaria's Italian Restaurant. The fact that I live just a block or so away from it might have some influence on my opinion, but I don't think I'm too biased. Iaria's serves good, reasonably priced Italian food in a friendly atmosphere. As an added bonus, the restaurant has a unique sense of history to go along with the tasty vittles; it was first opened in 1933 and has been owned/managed by four generations of Iarias.

With its yellow bricks and neon signs, the outside of Iaria's is kind of a throwback, reminding me of the 1950s. (Not that I was alive then, mind you.) The interior is divided into two distinct sections at opposite ends of the building - the family dining room and the bar. Both the bar and the dining room feature booths and tables decorated in the traditional Italian colors of red, green, and white. The vibe is informal, more like a diner than a fancy schmancy dinner place. The wait staff is always friendly and warm. When you're here, you're family. No, wait. That's the Olive Garden. Anyway, the Olive Garden slogan holds true at Iaria's as well.

Iaria's serves many excellent dishes, including the meat ravioli, chicken drogato, and chicken piccata (ask for it with capers). The cheese tortellini served in tomato-cream sauce is probably my favorite, though. All dinners come with house-made minestrone soup and a salad. The salad is pretty standard, but you can jazz it up with some of Iaria's awesome house-made Roquefort dressing. This stuff is great, chunky and thick instead of runny and watery. I usually use half of it on my salad and then eat the other half with the complimentary warm bread. If you don't have any of the Roquefort dressing (shame on you), then the bread is best dipped in some olive oil. Personally, I like to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese and pepper on top of my oil before I dip.

If you’re not in the mood for a full dinner, Iaria’s also has great sandwiches and pizzas. The tenderloin, Italian sausage (locally made and spicy), and meatball sandwiches are all excellent, although sometimes the rolls can be a little hard for my tender mouth. As for the pizzas, Iaria’s serves theirs on crispy, cracker-thin crusts that I love. Topped with olive oil, basil, mozzarella, garlic, and tomatoes, their Margherita pizza is the best in Indy. The bianco pizza (made with Alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, bacon, and Provolone cheese) is another of my favorites, although it is pretty rich, so plan to take half home.

Iaria’s serves lunch and dinner daily, but they're closed Sundays and Mondays. If I had one wish, it would be that they would be open on Mondays so I could order carry-out when I don't feel like cooking on Monday nights, but I suppose the hard-working folks at Iaria's deserve a weekend, too.

Iaria's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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