A few weeks back one of my ArtSees Diner Radio guests shared that she and her husband love going to an Italian restaurant in Dyer Indiana that is to die for. So, today on our way back from Chicago Hts, where we saw The Drama Group's production of Reefer Madness, all that smoking "the weed" got us hungry! :D No seriously, there was no smoking of weed in the making of this hunger, merely a play on words and an opportunity to plug an amazing show. Did I mention my daughter was in it and was outstanding? Okay, so I digress! Back to the food...and the restaurant, Little Italy
We arrived at the start of their dinner hour, so the place was relatively empty. This gave Steve and I an opportunity to just take in the place without the bustle and noise of a happy dinner hour. The ambiance truly captures a the feel of restaurants in New York's Little Italy. There were moments when Steve and I felt like we were on vacation! "Did it remind us of places we visited in Florida, or was it NYC?" Our conversation settled on it being unique to Northwest Indiana and yes, something experienced in our travels.
Our server was Anthony. Anthony was a true professional, he knew the restaurant, the food, and most importantly, he was not afraid to converse with the patrons. Whether it was making us feel comfortable, laughing at our silly jokes, or just making recommendations on everything from the new Malbec on hand, or patron's favorites, he was on! We took his recommendation for the wine, La Copa Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina his recommendation for food, Entree;Crispy Pork Shoulder,Pasta;Rigatoni with fennel sausage, tomato cream sauce. Because this is a family style restaurant, the food is serve in two sizes, either the Little Italy, or the Big Italy. We went with Anthony's recommendations and we were not disappointed. Choosing the two dishes in Little Italy sizes proved to be more than enough. In addition to the dishes chosen, we requested the red pepper bisque soup topped with goat cheese. I truly believe you can tell so much about a restaurant by the bread, the soup and the dessert. We did not have room for dessert, so I cannot vouch for a triple header on the basics, but, I can guarantee that the hearty bread served with herb infused olive oil is a hit! I can also attest to the fabulous homemade soup.
All of the ingredients are prepared on site. This is the chef-owner's guarantee that we are getting his best. Along with the entree came a dark leafy green salad, with grape tomatoes, arugula and the lemon vinaigrette dressing is a must. A house specialty! Also, with every entree patrons are served a generous portion of bakes ziti, with the house tomato sauce.
"Okay, so LaLuna, how was the food?" I am so glad you asked! It was exceptionally good. The pork was perfect. Prepared over two days to ensure the best quality possible. The pork shoulder is slow cooked in chicken stock, (all prepared on the premises) celery, onions and carrots and cooked to a reduction. Then refrigerated over night, the fat is removed from the pork reduction. Prior to serving the pork shoulder is rubbed with a blend of spices, roasted to a crispy edge and served with portobello mushrooms, carrots and reduction. The ziti was better than most tomato sauce based dishes. I am very particular and rarely find a sauce that sings. This sauce came pretty close, but, the rigatoni, oh mama mia! First of all, the pasta was cooked perfectly. The sauce for the rigatoni was half Alfredo and half tomato. That happens to be one of my favorites. Often times Alfredo sauces let me down. Chef Andrew's Alfredo did not let me down. There was a zing, a garlic edge, pure cream, and butter. The fennel sausage added the right level of sweet herb (not to be confused with the herb mentioned in the beginning of this blog) and fresh peas. The peas lent the perfect balance to the many exciting tastes. Just enough green to keep it light. Both Steve and I felt that the rigatoni sauce was the perfect adornment to the pork dish.
Little Italy, Dyer, Serves it up Big, and receives 2 forks up! We will be going back and encourage you to make this one of your favorites! 1155 JOLIET ST. DYER, IN 46311 219-865-3040 DYERSLITTLEITALY@YAHOO.COM