Tag Archives: Italian

Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza

11 Jan

Hubs and I attempted to make a decision this past weekend when going out. It was getting late, our stomachs were growling, and we were getting desperate. Quickly, we had to think of somewhere extremely close that was still new. I was demanding something new to be more exact. We ended up in Clay Terrace to try Tony Sacco’s. Every time we drive by, it is busy.I hopped out of the car to see how long the wait would be and with 20 minutes to go, we decided to give it a try on the Friday night.

I put our name in and began to observe.The space to wait is awkward. There are a few chairs near the hostess stand, but besides that, you stand in an open area trying to not be in anyone’s way or too close to the tables that are near the space. After all, nothing more horrible than people up in your meal while you are sipping your beverage and noshing on your food. The atmosphere is an unfinished feel. And that is being generous – almost like it done as cheaply and quickly as possible. The floors were uneven and original from the space prior, limited decorating on the walls, and open ceiling beams. It was just a colder feel – maybe done on purpose for the heat of the coal oven? It wasn’t too cold that it was uncomfortable, just not a warm cozy feel. Despite the two hostesses were awfully quiet (saying names at a level where everyone was trying to crowd the podium despite the space permitted to awkwardly stand in the doorway), we had a good position so we could hear our name be called within 15 minutes or so.

We were seated near the open kitchen area and quickly approached by our server. After a quick run down of the drinks, we each ordered a local brew and order of garlic rotolis. When our drinks were delivered, we also ordered a caprese salad and the Marco Polo pizza. A lot of food, but sometimes eyes are bigger than stomachs. And by sometimes, this is 90% of the time in my world.

Strangely enough, our caprese salad came before the rolls that we had ordered 5 minutes beforehand. I discovered, as we were close to the kitchen and within earshot, that our rolls were actually given to the table next to us. They had children, so I was fine with that because I’d prefer them to be happy rather than upset on having to wait a bit for food. And really, new rolls were produced within a matter of minutes, no biggie. The caprese salad was nothing special, and I should have known better to not order it. Tomatoes are clearly not in season and these were slightly mealy because of that very reason. The mozzarella, not fresh by any means. I would even say that it was taken out of a plastic wrapping – similar to the kinds you can buy at your local grocer. I did like the fresh basil and the garlic oil it was served with. Sure, it was a lot of oil, but I really loved the garlic flavor. A little balsamic vinegar on top also helped, but it still was a caprese not in season. As for the rolls, there were a lot for only $5. A big positive as hubs clearly enjoyed them. But, it once again, it was fresh. Tasted like a prepackaged dough, most likely made for the restaurant. They were once again completely swimming in the garlic oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. I wonder how much garlic oil this restaurant goes through…anyway, the rolls were expected, but nothing special.

As for the pizza, I was beyond impressed with how fast it was delivered to our table. But that is about where my positives stop. The sauce was a standard tomato based sauce hinted with (you guessed it) garlic and olive oil. Our particular pizza, the Marco Polo, was topped with chicken, sun dried tomatoes and artichokes. I liked the combination of the tomatoes and artichokes on the pizza – it is a earthy taste that I enjoy. But I did pick off the chicken. Unfortunately, it was so bland that it ruined the rest of the pizza. It didn’t taste as though it had any seasoning, but at the same time, it was all I could taste. And the crust, though good in flavor and texture on the ends, was completely flimsy in the middle. When you pick up the pizza, it immediately fell as did the toppings. I ended up picking off the chicken and eating half with two hands before it could support itself. And really, I’ve had much better.

I clearly didn’t have expectations of Tony’s. I figured it was a chain, but I just didn’t know how local or national of a chain it was. From my quick research, it looks like it started as a Midwestern chain. This particular location is in the middle of the outdoor shopping area, so I’m sure they get drop by business all the time. I think that is how many chain restaurants can survive – frequent foot traffic. I could see how it may be a step up from delivery pizza. Overall service was average and prices was reasonable ($40 before gratuity for the salad, appetizer, 12′ pizza and two beers), but I would rather take a few minutes and drive to the local pizzeria down the street – there are at least two that I enjoy within a few miles.

Tony Sacco’s * 14405 Clay Terrace Blvd, Suite 150 * Carmel, 46032 *317.574.3473

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A2Z Cafe

5 Dec

Strip malls. There is something about restaurants being in strip malls – anyone agree? They are everywhere in Indianapolis, ranging from formal to casual. Some people won’t even give these a try because of the location. Unfortunately, I sometimes don’t always remember these options because of the strip mall concept. But one night, I remembered. I remembered a restaurant where we had a really great breakfast a few years ago. And then I remembered they also serve dinner. Hubs agreed, it was time to check out A2Z Cafe for dinner.

Sadly, when we arrived on a Saturday evening, there was no one there. It was maybe 7pm and we were the only patrons. Another couple did arrive immediately after us, but that was it. I began to wonder if it was because of the mall concept or the food, but I was committed to trying.

Our service was quick and friendly from the one server in the restaurant. I know she didn’t have any other tables besides the two of us, but I like to think the service would have excelled all the same if the restaurant was packed. After reviewing the menu, I was also reminded that the main theme of the restaurant is Italian. I was craving pasta, so I knew this is where I needed to be. Having a special soft spot for goat cheese, we settled on splitting a goat cheese salad as a starter. Once again, the service was prompt and the salad was warm upon delivery. We were presented with a plate of spinach, dressed with a warm balsamic reduction. Slightly sweet, tangy and intense, the reduction was paired with tender figs. I loved the subtle crunch of the fig and the concentrated flavor of fall. This was paired perfectly with the hazelnut crusted goat cheese. There was quite a large portion of goat cheese that we were able to share. The hazelnuts were slightly fried and the goat cheese was warm and creamy. Everything about this salad was great.

Hubs had ordered the lobster ravioli, which was on special. I had a quick bite, but it was after he had salted the dish. Because of that, I thought the sauce was extremely salty. Hubs did agree, he thought it needed something but the salt was too much. Besides the seasoning factor on hand, the sauce was extremely rich as expected. Lobster didn’t shine as a main ingredient either, but the pasta was fresh in taste. An oregano heavy hand took care of the bread, though it was still good to slather up the sauce. Once again, I only had one bite, but hubs thought the dish was good, just too rich to finish.

On the other hand, my dish was everything I wanted and more. The pasta of my penne con gorgonzola was boiled al dente and soaked up the creamy and cheesy sauce of the dish. The sauce was rich, but cut with the saltiness of the apple smoked bacon, I couldn’t get enough of it. The bacon was in small pieces so that each and every bite had a taste. Complimenting the whole dish was the slightly grilled taste from the chicken, which was extremely tender and portioned well. I thought I could have kept eating this dish, but the portion was just right as towards the end, the richness did catch up to me. But I slathered the bread with the sauce and literally cleaned my bowl clean.

As mentioned, the brunch we had here back in the day was delicious and why we returned. The dinner definitely stood up to my expectations as it fulfilled my Italian taste for the evening. It was creamy and rich-everything that I had wanted. Two entrees, a salad appetizer, beer and glass of red wine left us with a bill just under $50 prior to tip. The food was worth every penny. I left that evening with a full stomach and a reminder to not forget the great food of A2Z that evening.

Just a side note – the owner of A2Z also owns Carmel Burgers. Two very different concepts, and though I wasn’t a huge fan of the burgers, I’m a big fan of the Cafe.

A2Z Cafe * 4705 East 96th Street * Indianapolis, 46240 * 317.569.9349

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