Choosing a restaurant to spend your Valentine’s Day evening in can be an important and time-consuming task, even high-risk if the food ends up not being incredible.
My girlfriend and I had been debating for the past couple of days where we should indulge our Italian-food cravings for the most romantic day of the year, and we finally settled on the La Villa Restaurant, located at 3632 North Pulaski Rd.
Heaven and I were seated at a booth tucked away in one of the corners of the restaurant, which was decorated with standard Valentine’s paraphernalia: hearts, red and pink stringers, and individual red roses at each table. Candles in glass jars were also lit at some tables, except for ours.
With friendly and quick service, a waitress promptly arrived to take our drinks and appetizer choices. In order to get a taste of the varying options available on the appetizer menu we went with the Combination Platter ($8.95) with cheese sticks, mushrooms, onion rings, and hot wings.
After our drinks came, our combination platter arrived on a bed of wilted purple lettuce. Fried after fried food surrounded two little cups of ketchup and marinara sauce. Heaven went for one of her favorites first, and showed me the crispy hollow of the cheese stick she had bitten into. Chuckling, I wondered how the fried exterior of the wwwcheese stick remained intact without the majority of the mozzarella inside.
My first choice on the combination platter was the mushrooms, which were also fried. Unlike the cheese stick Heaven had selected, my fried casing contained a warm, pleasant, and juicy mushroom interior.
For the rest of the appetizers on the combination platter, we were not too impressed. The fried rings contained stringy, unappetizing onions, and the hot wings had a plated and dry battering.
For the entrees, Heaven and I went in different directions. She ordered Linguine Ala Villa pasta ($17.95) with broccoli, shrimp, and onion “with a touch of garlic in the cream sauce.” I went with the Chicken Marsala ($18.95): chicken sautéed with mushrooms in Marsala wine sauce.
After we both took the first bites of our respective entrees, Heaven spoke out first and told me her Linguine pasta was “bland.” I tried a forkful of her pasta and agreed with her, noticing that what meager flavor existed took a lot longer to hit my taste buds than it should have taken.
I was happy with my Chicken Marsala, however, my impression after devouring the chicken and mushrooms was that La Villa’s Marsala experience wasn’t too distinct from that of Olive Garden’s.
To finish off the meal, we ordered a raspberry-flavored cheesecake, with a tasty Oreo crust. The cheesecake, which was in the shape of a heart, had a pleasing and aesthetic look to it. It was evident that someone had taken his or her time to decorate it.
Overall, La Villa had great and friendly service alongside an average culinary experience, with menu options that certainly outshined others. I wouldn’t ‘overestimate’ it to become a spot for a special occasion, however, it might very well become a great lunch spot. Spoiler alert: it opens for lunch at 10 am Tuesday-Sunday.