I was in the Winston-Salem, North Carolina area the other day and was, as usual, on the hunt for a good Italian place. It was my wife's birthday, so I was looking for a nice ristorante or trattoria. Someplace a bit fancy and upscale to suit the occasion. Instead, I stumbled upon a little place called “Little Italy Ristorante and Pizzeria.”
When we first arrived in town, we were really too road weary to go anyplace fancy. Our friends suggested “Little Italy,” located in a strip mall just down the road a ways in Rural Hall. I was given to understand the place was part of a small local chain. From the outside it didn't give me any reason to expect very much, but we were tired and hungry, so I thought “what the heck.”
Inside, it was noisy and crowded with people obviously having a good time. My opinion crept up a notch. The wonderful smell of Italian food took my opinion up another notch on the scale. No host or hostess around. Just order at the counter and find a booth or table. Niente di speciale ma non c'e male, d'accordo? My opinion meter started heating up when I detected an Italian accent from the guy taking the order. It began smoking when the waitress responded appropriately to my comments in Italian. It started blazing when I tasted the food!
My buddy and I wolfed down one of the best Neopolitan-style pizzas I've ever had the pleasure of wolfing while our ladies did serious damage to a couple of pasta dishes. My wife was nudging me and trying to get me to sample her baked ziti, but I was way too focused on the pizza to be so easily distracted. When I eventually acquiesced to her repeated requests, I was as blown away by it as she was.
I started throwing Italian superlatives (“Perfetto!” “Bellissimo!” “Molto buono!” “Squisito!”) at the waitress every time she stopped by to check on us. I started peppering her with questions like, “È la salsa fatta in casa?” (Is the sauce homemade?) She replied, “Si, tutti fatta in casa.” (Yes, everything's homemade.) When I got to,“È la pasta fatta con farina doppio zero?” (Is the dough made with double zero flour?), she brought out her husband, the cook, and we started swapping recipes and techniques right there in the middle of the restaurant.
Eventually, I was invited back to the kitchen where I met Papa and other members of the family, and by the time I left, everybody was waving and saying, “Ciao! Ciao!” What an amazing place! It was so good, I almost bagged the idea of finding a fancier place in favor coming back the following night.
“Little Italy Ristorante and Pizzeria” provides simple, everyday Italian-American fare lovingly prepared and proudly served by una famiglia that knows its stuff. And it's all priced so that a date night or a family outing won't require a line of credit at the bank. Add in a friendly, casual atmosphere and lots of parking right at the door and you've got a recipe for a fantastic Italian dining experience.
As I said, there are several locations, including one in King and one in Burlington, but the one I visited in Rural Hall is located at 1241 Bethania Rural Hall Road. Call 'em at (336) 969-5330. They do deliver. Check out their website at http://loozfamilylittleitaly.com/location.php?location=ruralhall for more information.
Don't be surprised to see me there. Little Italy has become my new “go to” destination for casual Italian dining in the Winston-Salem area.