Andrea’s View: I know that Iaria’s is not adventurous for most people, but when one is meeting one’s in-laws (who happen to be running the mini marathon the next day), this perfect little Italian restaurant is a must. I was a little late in making reservations so we were left with the 5 o’clock slot. They even called my house the day before to confirm my reservation, a nice little touch. Anyway, Dave and I arrived a little early, as we were not sure how heavy traffic would be downtown especially with numerous out-of-towners for the race. We got to the restaurant about 4:30 and waited outside. The restaurant does not open for dinner until 5. As we were waiting, several other cars pulled up and people started milling about the parking lot. I said to Dave that maybe Iaria’s should encourage tailgating before dinner.
Inside, this little restaurant gets packed. People of all ages and backgrounds study their menus as the staff scurry around in an efficient but friendly manner. The only negative thing I can say about Iaria’s is that it is really hard to decide what to order. The menu isn’t big, it is just that everything sounds so good. I changed my mind three times before settling on the lasagna. I was not disappointed. This was a tall lasagna, with many layers of meat and pasta. The ground beef ( it could have been a combo of beef, pork, and veal) was seasoned perfectly, and the pasta was al dente. Smothering this tower, was a red tomato sauce that was so sweet that it caught me off guard. At first I wasn’t sure that I cared for the sauce, but the more I ate it, the more I liked it. My dinner also came with minestroni soup and a salad.
The next time you are in the mood for something a little more mainstream, check out Iaria’s. It is a local business that’s been in business for a number of years. So all in all, it wasn’t very adventurous, but just plain good.
Dave’s View: What is the first thing you see when you open the door to Iaria’s Italian restaurant in downtown Indianapolis? Three generations. Three photos line the walls as you first enter. The photos are of the generations of the couples who have run this establishment. The first photo is the couple who first opened the place and they don’t look so happy. It was probably taken before people were trained to smile on photos. In fact, it looks like they just reached the shores of the United States, didn’t know the language, had to work hard for their money, and they were tired and a little bit grouchy. The second photo looks a bit happier, probably because by this time, the money was flowing in and people were forced to smile while taking a picture. Now, the third photo, by the looks of it, was taken in the 1970′s and all I can say is, it’s very Farrah Fawcett. The hair style and way too much fun. But what do you expect from a third generation restaurant?
You don’t have to expect, you have to accept. The food here is simple. The atmosphere here is simple. Iaria’s is an honest family oriented restaurant.
I ordered the Chicken Drogato. It may sound complex, but this entrée is simple. It’s penne pasta with small slices of chicken breast and peppers in a spicy sauce. The penne was not over cooked nor under cooked, it was cooked to perfection. When you start eating the penne, you can’t stop eating them. The mouth feel of the penne is very addictive and don’t worry about being over spiced from the sauce. The sauce is hot, but it compliments the peppers, chicken, and penne perfectly. Now, on the other hand there is one thing to worry about: The size of the entrée. It’s huge. It’s bigger than the size of my head and I have a pretty big size head. (That’s what Andrea tells me.) Go here on an empty stomach, okay scratch that, a starving stomach. I couldn’t eat the whole meal and all I could imagine would be this Italian mother standing over me shaking her head and telling me how people in Italy are starving and you can’t finish your plate. I’m sorry, so sorry.
The place is nicely decorated and has a feel of being in a different decade. What decade that would be, I don’t know? Pictures line the wall with red vinyl seating and green neon shines towards the ceiling. The service here is superb. A lot of Italian mothering without the shame. They could care less if you didn’t eat everything. They understand.
There is one more item that stands out for this place. The reservation system. We had to make a reservation to this restaurant and it was the first restaurant to calls us back the day of our reservation. I felt like my dentist office just called me. It kind of caught me off guard at first, but I thought what a great idea. More restaurants should implement this policy.
Service: 9 Food:9 Ambiance: 9 Total: 27 out of 30.
$50-$60 with adult beverages.
A fourth generation now runs this restaurant. Make sure you ask where’s the fourth generation picture located. I didn’t see one, but sometimes I can’t see properly, especially at night. (That’s what Andrea tells me.)