With our kitchen demoed and awaiting remodeling, we switched back and forth between microwave and carry out dinners. One night I decided to bring it up a notch and order from Carlucci Downers Grove, a local Italian restaurant with a decent reputation. I started by visiting their website, which directed me to GrubHub for online ordering. After several attempts (we had decided early in the day to order dinner, but the dinner menu was unavailable until later in the day), I finally entered the order, only to find out that GrubHub doesn't have a way to request a pickup time, which is pretty standard on other online services. Thus, a phone order was required.
We decided to treat it as a typical sit-down meal, ordering an appetizer, a pizza, and an entree.
To start, we went with Bocci Balls Arancini (breaded deep fried risotto balls with fresh mozzarella, Pecorino, peas and tomato sauce). Next up was the Melanzana Pizza (lightly grilled eggplant, roasted garlic cream sauce, mozzarella and Parmigiano). To finish, the Ravioli di Zucca (hand made roasted butternut squash ravioli with brown butter, crispy sage and crushed amaretto cookies).
When I arrived at the restaurant, I was directed to the bar to pick up my order - a quick glance into the dining room made it appear both comfortable and luxurious, not an easy line to straddle. The bar was full of folks drinking cheerfully among the holiday decorations. Settling up was no problem and the food came out at the time promised on the phone, a big plus in my mind. Not sure if it's typical, but the appetizer and entree had plastic wrap around the take-out containers, a nice touch when the air outside was below freezing - our food was still warm after a 10 minute drive home and setting up for dinner.
All three dishes were outstanding -- one criticism I've heard about Carlucci is that their food is salty, but I found the dishes seasoned just right. An order of pizza dough type bread fingers was included at no charge, which was great for sopping up the sauces, a nice touch by the restaurant.
While the food tasted really wonderful, something seemed to be missing. After talking it over, we decided that, for the cost (about $40), the price should have included service, ambiance, and maybe some of the Friday Penny Wine Carlucci is known for. Ultimately, the food couldn't justify the price on its own as take out. We're looking forward to visiting Carlucci, eating in, and seeing if the experience can match the great taste of the food.
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Contact me: Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!
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