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The Scarlet & Black

Napoli’s serves up classic Italian dishes

Pasta, pizza, and other classic Italian dishes take center stage at Napoli’s Italian Restaurant, one of Grinnell’s newest eating establishments. Taking the space previously occupied by Thai Basil⎯1108 West Street⎯Napoli’s serves lunches and dinners of fairly simple Italian fare. I decided to check it out for lunch this past week, and found it to be predictable but very enjoyable, with an enthusiastic staff.

Napoli’s has a comfortable atmosphere, with walls painted in earthy tones and adorned with a few landscape paintings. Quiet instrumental music piped through the speakers near the ceiling. The restaurant has a casual feeling, though I felt slightly underdressed in jeans and a t-shirt. It seems like a good, safe choice to take one’s parents or other visitors for a meal.

The meal began with my dining companion and I enjoying rolls and salad, both of which were included with our lunch specials. The salad was rather underwhelming, with just lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a bit of dressing, but the rolls were superb. Warm, fresh Italian bread, slightly salty and with a wonderful, slightly dense texture formed a strong first impression and made me eager to taste our main entrees.

I ordered the Pasta Sampler⎯including lasagna, manicotti and cannelloni⎯while my dining companion ordered the Tortellini Ala Pana⎯ tortellini with Romano cheese and pink sauce. The pasta was served very hot and was extremely well made. The delicate balance between cheese, sauce and meat was expertly maintained and no component was overpowering. The Pasta Sampler was a fun choice because I received small portions of the three dishes, which I enjoyed, thanks to the opportunity to try different dishes in a single meal. The Tortellini Ala Pana was phenomenal, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who visits Napoli’s. It featured a substantial helping of well-cooked tortellini covered in a rich, creamy pink sauce. For dessert, we split a cannoli between the two of us. The cannoli was pretty traditional, a pastry filled with a decadent cream with chocolate chips interspersed inside. It proved a delightful end to a tasty meal.

Essentially, Napoli’s Italian Restaurant is nice, fairly casual Italian fare at a modest price. The staff is very friendly and there are good options for almost everyone, including vegetarians. The variety of options and predictable choices also makes Napoli’s an ideal restaurant for fairly picky eaters.

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