Italian Restaurants

Noodles & Company

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We’re going to do things a little different this post. Last week I was invited to sample some of the new menu items at Noodles & Company with a handful of my favorite people. What’s on the menu, you say? Well, for starters, noodles, but they also offer salads, soups, sandwiches, shareables, and desserts. I love that Noodles & Company doesn’t use artificial colors, additives, sweeteners, or preservatives. They offer organic, cage-free, hormone and antibiotic free proteins and fresh produce. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 bites (clean and fresh dining room, menu posted for easy ordering)

Price: 4 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 4 out of 5 bites

Service: 4.5 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 bites (totally customizable menu)

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Korean BBQ Meatballs with Gochujang sauce: Flavorful meatballs tossed with a sweet and spicy Korean-style Gochujang (go-choo-jang) barbeque sauce. The Gochujang sauce was really delicious! The sweet and spicy sauce added a caramelized coating to the meatballs.

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Cheesy Garlic Bread: Parmesan and garlic butter melted over toasted petite baguette with Italian seasonings and marinara sauce. Chewy and soft on the inside, with a toasty crust. The bread was seasoned well with a nice blend of garlic and Parmesan. The marina was rich and chunky, very good!

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* New! Chicken Veracruz Salad: Mixed greens topped with Roma tomato, red onion, chili-lime chicken, crumbled naturally raised bacon, fresh-cut corn, tossed with Jalapeño Ranch dressing and crispy jalapeños, fresh California avocados and cilantro. My favorite! There are a lot of flavors going on without being overwhelming. Noodles & Company roasts their own corn on the cob and cuts it off just for this salad! Bad ass! This salad had a nice spicy crunch from the crispy jalapenos, but the cool Jalapeno Ranch dressing and avocado balanced out the heat. The acid from the chili-lime chicken went really well the salty bacon.

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*New! Napa Market Chicken Salad: Mixed greens layered with Gala apple slices, Roma tomato and red bell pepper topped with pulled grilled chicken, bleu cheese and naturally raised bacon crumbles, tossed with pomegranate vinaigrette. The crisp, sweet apple paired perfectly with the bleu cheese. I also appreciated that the bleu cheese wasn’t overpowering-sometimes it will steel the show, but in this case, it was a nice addition. The pomegranate vinaigrette added a light and sweet, yet vinegary touch.

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Penne Rosa: Spicy tomato cream sauce, penne pasta, mushrooms, tomato, spinach, wine and parmesan cheese topped with parmesan crusted chicken breast. Another favorite! This sauce is the perfect blend of tomato, cream, and spice. The parmesan adds a nice nutty layer that is perfect with the wine.

Tip: Add a touch of Sriracha for more heat (shout out to Jacki)!

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Alfredo MontAmore: Spaghetti noodles, four-cheese blend alfredo, mushrooms, tomato, spinach and parmesan chicken. Topped with MontAmore cheese, Italian parsley and cracked pepper . This was another top pick. I liked that the Alfredo sauce was light, it seemed appropriate with the delicate pasta. The fresh veggies were the perfect blend. Less is more and this dish is proof!

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Whole Grain Tuscan Fresca: Whole grain linguine with balsamic, olive oil, white wine and roasted garlic, red onion, tomato, spinach,  feta and Italian parsley with grilled chicken. The balsamic was a nice surprise and made perfect sense with the whole grain pasta. The feta added a nice saltiness that went well with the balsamic and white wine.

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Japanese Pan Noodles: Caramelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce, broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Asian sprouts, black sesame seeds and cilantro. One of my personal favorites. I love the thick, chewy udon noodle. It is perfect to soak up the sweet soy. The shitake mushrooms had a nice meaty earthiness and the cilantro brightened up the dish.

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Pad Thai: This new recipe highlights a more traditional sauce and features green onions instead of carrots. – Rice noodle stir-fry with scrambled egg, napa and red cabbage, citrus, peanuts, Asian sprouts, green onions and cilantro with sautéed shrimp. Yum! I typically am not a fan of Pad Thai because of the sweet and spicy, Peanut sauce, but this was delicious! The sauce was lighter and didn’t smother the dish. I loved the combo of egg and fresh veggies. The shrimp was the best choice for this menu item.

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Pesto Cavatappi: Curly pasta, basil pesto, garlic, mushrooms, tomato, wine, cream, parmesan and Italian parsley with naturally raised shredded pork. The pesto cream sauce was light, fresh, and paired nicely with the salty pork. I really like how the curly cavatappi pasta captured the pesto sauce with every bite.

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Wisconsin Mac and Cheese: A classic blend of cheddar and jack cheeses, cream and elbow macaroni with broccoli. Classic creamy and cheesy favorite. The broccoli was a nice addition and showcases how every dish can be customized and tweaked to your liking. Also, it’s a great way to sneak in those veggies for kids.

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Steak Strogonoff: Marinated steak, mushroom sherry cream sauce, fresh herbs, cracked pepper, sautéed mushrooms, wavy egg noodles, parmesan and Italian parsley. The steak was juicy,  tender, and paired nicely with the salty Parmesan. The sherry cream sauce was light and went well with the beefy steak, but it was missing that rich stroganoff flavor I am used to. I would described this dish as a modern stroganoff.

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Desserts!

Snickerdoodle and Chocolate Chip Cookies and Rice Krispy Treat: Delicious! The rice krispies are made in house  daily and you can tell! They are soft, fresh, and takes your right back to when you used to help mom make these as a child. The cookies were also soft and delicious.

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Noodles & Company is the perfect spot no matter what you are in the mood for. One of my favorite features Noodles & Company’s customizable menu which makes it great no matter if you are gluten free, picky, or just simply trying to eat all natural, organic food.  You also have the option of getting some dishes as buff bowls (hold the noodles, more veggies). Noodles & Company is family friendly and even has options for the kiddos, too. They will happily cater your next event or get together. How awesome would it be if you could eat Pad Thai or Penne Rosa at your birthday party or a shower? Remember to sign up for the email club so you don’t miss out on specials, promotions, and coupons. Stop in and experience the new menu items and don’t forget your classic favorites!

Thanks to my mom, Nastassia, Inda, Lauren, and Jacki for joining me. It was so much fun, ladies!
Noodles & Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Joey’s Famous Philly Cheesesteaks

Located on Northline Rd in Southgate, MI, is Joey’s Famous Philly Cheesesteaks. With a menu consisting of cheese steaks, pizza, hoagies, salads, and Italian & Sicilian favorites, Joey’s has a something to satisfy any craving. I really liked that there were a lot of different types of cheese steaks (more than 15) and sides. Joey’s also offers pizza and cheese steak “sushi” which includes your choice of  toppings and homemade dough rolled into pin wheels and baked. The sushi is even served with sauce to dip and chopsticks. Very unique and creative! The Chipotle sweet potato and seasoned waffle fries sounded delicious as well. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 2.5 out of 5 bites

Price: 3 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 1.5 out of 5 bites

Service: 4 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 2 out of 5 bites

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“The Guido” cheesesteak: Steak, Giardiniera pepper mix, onions & Provolone cheese. The bread was really good, soft and fresh with a slight chew. The steak was tender, but extremely salty which ruined the whole sandwich. It was really hard to enjoy the cheese steak because of the overwhelming amount of salt and I couldn’t finish it.

joeys cheesesteak

Service was good, but the experience was disappointing. This really bummed me out because I have been wanting to try Joey’s for a while. It would really help if the hours of operation were posted for customers. I don’t know if I just ordered the “wrong” cheese steak or if it was just a fluke experience, but I do believe that Joey’s has a good thing going. They just need to ease up on the sodium and let the cheese steaks do the talking.

Stay tuned for my next write-up showcasing my escapades and adventures in Dallas, TX!

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Food Tasting @ Olive Garden

Josh and I were lucky enough to be invited to an exclusive food tasting @ Olive Garden in Ann Arbor, MI last week. Olive Garden’s culinary geniuses were looking for feedback on their latest and most significant menu evolution in OG history. Olive Garden’s new menu is designed to appeal to the evolving palettes and preferences of casual dining guests, while providing more customizable options. See how they ranked!

Atmosphere: 4 out of bites

Price: 3.5 out 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 4.5 out of 5 bites

Service: 4 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 bites

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We started off with a drink…

Italian Margarita: Sauza Gold Tequila, triple sec and imported Italian amaretto. Light, refreshing, and dangerous because you cannot taste the alcohol. The sweetness from the amaretto balances the sourness from the margarita. Highly recommended!

Italian Margherita

Out of a 10 course food tasting, Josh and I decided to share our favorites.

Crispy Risotto Bites: A bite-sized blend of Italian cheeses and rice, lightly fried and served with marinara sauce. Perfectly crispy and not greasy. The marinara was flavorful and the perfect sidekick. Great for sharing!

Risotto Bites

Artichoke Fritta: Artichoke hearts lightly battered and fried, topped with Italian cheeses, Served with citrus aioli dipping sauce. Even though the artichoke hearts were fried, this appetizer was very light. The artichoke has a slightly lemony and sour element that brightened up the texture. The citrus aioli sauce was what made this dish: delectable!

Articoke Fritta

Salmon Bruschetta: Grilled filet topped with fresh tomatoes and basil pesto. Served on a seafood risotto with sauteed shrimp. Although we’re not huge seafood fans (Josh even less than I), this salmon was amazing. Cooked and seasoned perfectly and extremely fresh! The creamy and silky risotto was the perfect pairing.

Salmon bruschetta with shrimp risotto

Citrus Chicken Sorrento: (Lighter Italian Fare, under 575 calories). Tender, grilled chicken breasts in a citrus honey glaze, inspired by the city of Sorrento, famous for it’s lemon groves. Served with lightly seasoned broccoli, artichokes and roasted vegetables. The sweet citrus and lemon flavor was light, yet satisfying. The chicken was tender, juicy, and succulent.

Citrus Chicken Sorrento

Braised Beef and Tortelloni: Tender slices of slow-braised beef, portobello mushrooms, and asiago-filled tortelloni tossed in a basil-marsala sauce. OMG! Hands down, the best thing we’ve ever eaten! The beef was so tender and absorbed so much of that slightly sweet basil-marsala sauce. The tortelloni was perfectly cooked, and filled with buttery asiago cheese that just melted in your mouth. Although this dish was slightly heavy, it was comforting, exquisite and so worth it!

Braised Beef Tortelloni

Apple Tuscan Bread Pudding: (Seasonal dessert)-Warm, rustic Italian bread pudding baked with York Imperial applies, then topped with caramel and a rich vanilla cream. Now, I would normally gravitate towards a chocolate dessert or cheesecake for an after dinner delight, but this bread pudding is good! A nice crusty top with a moist, soft center. This is the perfect dessert to warm you up right before you venture out into the Michigan cold. The vanilla cream is the perfect finishing touch and really compliments the bread pudding well.

Tuscan Apple Bread Pudding

Some of the other menu features include Spicy Three Meat Sauce part of Cucina Mia (customize your pasta), Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper, Mediterranean Flatbread, Spicy Calabrian Wings, and Pappardella Pescatore seafood entree.

The OG staff and organizers of the food tasting were really great and took the time to explain each dish and interact with the food tasters. Service was good as always and the staff was very accommodating. A big thank you goes out to the the staff at Olive Garden and Costa Communications Group! We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, if you want good Italian that never disappoints, go to Olive Garden. This new menu is the best we’ve had at OG so stop wasting your time with mediocre. Get to Olive Garden now and experience decadence.

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Antonio's Italian Cuisine

Today on the Bite Tonight: Antonio’s Italian Cuisine

For Sweetest Day last week, Josh wanted to try out Antonio’s. Located in Sterling Heights on 14 Mile Rd, Antonio’s offers homemade favorites at a reasonable price. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 bites

Price: 3 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 4 out of 5 bites

Service: 4 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 3 out of 5 bites

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Corn Chowder: Creamy broth with corn, potato, and bacon. I love me some corn chowder and this was nothing, but extraordinary. The bacon was a nice touch to the silky creaminess.

corn chowder

Fettucini Antonio: Rapini, onions, roasted red peppers, and garlic sauteed with grilled Italian sausage and tossed with home made fettucini and topped with freshly grated Pecorino. When I saw this on the menu, I had to order it and it did not disappoint. The fettucini was fresh and perfectly cooked. The Alfredo sauce was seriously on point and paired well with the delicious Italian sausage.

sausage alfredo

Pollo Amatriciana: Julienne strips of chicken sauteed with bacon and onions in Alfredo sauce tossed with cheese tortellini. I liked how we could customize each dish and substitute Alfredo sauce. The combo of bacon, chicken, and onions was delicious. The cheese tortellini was tender and you can actually taste the creamy cheese filling.

Chicken alfredo, cheese torteleni

I am so glad that Josh recommended this restaurant because it is my new favorite. If you frequent my blog, you will know that Italian is hit or miss for me. Antonio’s is one of the best Italian places I’ve been to and I couldn’t have asked for a better night. Service was great and we only had to wait about 5 minutes to be seated.

 

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Vince's Italian

 

Today on the Bite Tonight: Vince’s Italian Restaurant

Located in Southwest Detroit on Springwells is Vince’s Italian Restaurant. With a menu consisting of homemade pasta and Italian favorites, Vince’s has an old school feel, and is popular place for regulars. This spot was recommended to me so Josh and I decided to try it out. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 3 out of 5 bites

Price: 2 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 3 out of 5 bites

Service: 3 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor:  2 out of 5 bites

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Dinner came with bread and a side salad

bread vinces

I went with the Gnocci: Potato dumplings topped with meat sauce. The dumplings were good and the sauce was pretty standard, nothing spectacular. I could’ve used a little more flavor. A little boring and not worth the money.

gnocci

Manicotti: Cheese and spinach filled pasta rolls topped with Alfredo sauce (your choice of sauce). Delicious! The pasta was tender and fresh and the Alfredo was smooth and creamy. The filling was good, too.

manicotti

My experience at Vince’s was good, but not great blow my mind Italian. I’m not sure if that’s because I didn’t order the right thing. On the other hand,I feel that if a place is good, then it shouldn’t matter what you order because everything will knock you socks off. The dining room reminded me of an old banquet hall and for the average cost of $17 a plate, it just wasn’t doing it for me. I do give props for not charging extra for Alfredo sauce like most places do. If you want good Italian, check out Vince’s. If you want great Italian with amazing service, go to Giovanni’s.

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Roman Village Cafe

Antonio’s Cusina Italiana has a sister restaurant located on Dix Rd. in Dearborn, Roman Village Cafe.  If you love Antonio’s, Roman Village is serving all your Italian favorites. I decided to take Josh there for Sweetest Day.

We started off with the garlicy, buttery fresh bread with Alfredo dipping sauce: The bread is amazing and the Alfredo was not salty like Olive Garden’s  is.

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Tortellini Alla Panna: Cheese filled tortellini prepared with peas and ham in a rich cream sauce. The tortellini was tender and the sauce was a little bland. The ham was good, but it seemed as though it was ripped up pieces of deli ham.

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I went with the famous Chicken Antonio (previously featured). Lightly battered chicken breast topped with melted Provolone cheese and white sauce. Delicious! I highly recommend this dish.

The food was good, but Antonio’s seems to be my favorite. I did like that we only waited about 20 min @ 7:30 pm on Saturday and the service was great. We also didn’t really like was that Roman Village Cafe was a little bright. Normally, when we go out to an Italian restaurant, we expect it to be dimly lit, creating a romantic ambiance.

Josh surprised me with some sweets (what a Sweetie)! He just wouldn’t tell me where he got them.

Chocolate Covered Bacon: Sweet meets salty. I thought the bacon would have that bacon-bit fake flavor, but it tasted like the bacon I made for breakfast this past weekend. Very interesting!

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(The pieces broke during transportation).

Butterfinger Dipped Pretzel & Chocolate with Cashews: Who doesn’t love a pretzel wrapped candy bar? The salt from the pretzel balances out the sweetness from the chocolate and peanut buttery Butterfinger! The chocolate with cashews was creamy and fresh. It didn’t taste like your average Hershey Bar. You could really taste the quality.

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The night was awesome and we have a lot of fun. Thanks Baby for the best Sweetest Day! ❤

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