## Tuesday, August 23, 2011

### Review of Luigi's, Fayetteville

When it comes to Italian food in Fayetteville, your choices should begin and end with Luigi’s.  It is by far, the best Italian in the area.  Luigi’s has this rustic feel to it, that immediately conjures up images of Italy.  After entering, the bar and lounge area is to the left, while the multiple dining rooms in the restaurant are to the right.  The bar always catches my eye, due to the light blue under-lighting of the alcohol bottles.  The scent of garlic and fresh bread awakens your senses as soon as you hit the foyer.  The restaurant gives you a feeling of belonging, just like an Italian grandmother’s dining room.  In fact, the feeling inside of the restaurant almost always reminds me of my Italian grandmother, and how I wish I learned more of her recipes.  Thankfully, Luigi’s is willing to make great Italian food for you.
Megan and I both love the fresh bread that is made on site.  It is warm on the inside and just crusty enough on the outside to make it authentic.  Instead of butter, you get a great combination of Parmesan and Italian herbs covered in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  The combination is amazing and dipping pieces of bread in the concoction will cause your taste buds to burst in your mouth.  While I did choose to add more vinegar to our dish, it is a great, unique, and thoroughly Italian way to start off a meal.
Instead of a salad, both Megan and I chose to get Luigi’s She Crab Soup.  The soup is exquisite.  Unlike many She-crab soups, this one has a very thick, almost bisque-like consistency.  You can also see a few shreds of crab and spices throughout the soup. Megan absolutely loves it and calls it one of her favorite soups.  I, also believe the soup is very good, but I am more of a chowder man instead of bisque.  I like more texture in my soups with chunks of seafood, potato, vegetables, etc., which is why I add the crackers.  For what Luigi’s She Crab Soup is, it is a great, rather filling, warm, and delicious soup.  And even though my preference is different, I still can guarantee that I will be ordering it instead of a salad every time.
For Megan’s meal, she ordered the Pasta Purses.  Our waiter gave her the suggestion that it pairs very well with their Italian sausage.  Wow, was he right; I’m very jealous that I did not order it.  Their pasta is actually shaped like purses, with six different cheeses mixed inside.  A piece of dough is rolled flat, and then the cheese is added.  Then, the edges are cinched together to give the visual effect of a purse.  Also, unlike some other Italian places where you get 4-5 stuffed pasta pieces on a plate (ravioli, etc), Luigi’s must have given Megan over twenty purses filled with cheese.  While the pasta is great, what really impresses me is the sauce; sorry, it is just the Italian side coming out.  For this dish, they make a pesto cream sauce.  It has the richness of an Alfredo sauce with the heavy cream and Parmesan, but then, a healthy amount of finely chopped pesto sauce blended in.  The combination is very addicting.  The rich sauce is teeming with the spices of the pesto, perfectly complementing the cheeses in the pasta purses.  The hot Italian sausage was grilled until just charred.  It was quite spicy, but you could taste the smoky flavor of the sausage.  It was a perfect complement to the richness of the sauce and add a salty, smoky component.
In order to try as many flavors as possible, I ordered Il Festa (the Feast).  I got a ricotta-stuffed Manicotti, Chicken Parmigiana, a large meatball, and instead of spaghetti, I substituted a Chicken Pomodoro Risotto.  The meatball was very large, well cooked, and created of predominantly meat and spices, just the way it should be.  It was moist, delicious, and almost melted in my mouth.  The Chicken was pounded very thin and then coated in Italian breadcrumbs and fried.  It was topped with a Marinara sauce and some Provolone cheese.  The Marinara, thankfully, was a proper, thick sauce with just a bit of sweetness.  Lately, I have been a huge fan of Provolone.  So when I tasted the combination of cheese, sauce, and chicken, I loved it.  I thought the chicken was little bit thin, but it was a sampler platter, so I shouldn’t complain. The Manicotti was good, but not spectacular.  In fact, the ricotta and parsley were a little bit dry inside.  I doubt I would order it as a full dish.  It was the same Marinara sauce, but this time over the Manicotti.  It was the least impressive part of this otherwise great dish.  The Risotto of the Day, the Chicken Pomodoro, was spectacular.  The creaminess of a perfectly cooked risotto is always a win in my book.  Add to it, large chicken pieces, spices, and tomato chunks and this risotto is a hit.  This was so good, I could have eaten a large bowl of this as my entire meal.  In fact, Megan kept stealing forkfuls of my risotto every time I looked away.
Luigi’s, without question, is the best Italian in all of Fayetteville.  The place can be a bit lively or just loud at times, but that is just a staple of all good Italian restaurants.  The food is great, the waiters are very helpful and attentive, and the atmosphere allows it to be a place you can take a date or well-behaved kids on family night.  If you are ever in Fayetteville, I know exactly where you should be eating dinner, Luigi’s.

 Category Scale 1-5 stars Food Quality $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$ Food Creativity $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$ Service $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$ Atmosphere $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$ Value for the price $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$