REVIEW Naples Italian Restaurant

6/5/2016 Naples Italian Restaurant
Knoxville, TN

It was our anniversary and, rather than go to our usual restaurant of choice, I suggested we do something different. I suggested Naples Italian Restaurant because, even though we’d lived in Knoxville, we had never been there. I called as we left home and made reservations. Having not been there before, I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to get one on such short notice. We were in luck!

When we arrived the first thing I noticed was the age of the building. This is not a bad thing necessarily, I was just hoping the inside was a bit more modern. We entered and were greeted by a friendly Hostess who, though we were about 15 minutes earlier than our reservation time, took us to our table. What a table choice! Without even knowing it was a special occasion, we were seated at a quaint little table for two against the wall. I did think that the first thing that should be immediately changed was the table cloths. It would be better, based on my total impression of this restaurant, if they switched to white, or black, linens. My impression of any restaurant that has red and white checkerboard, vinyl-like tablecloths is that they are a diner. This is just this critics impression.

I was immediately impressed with the menu. There were so many selections but it wasn’t overwhelming. It wasn’t long before we were greeted by a very polite server. She provided the specials and took our drink order. We ordered a bottle of wine to celebrate and opted for a bottle that was listed on their special half-price bottle menu. We were offered a wine chiller when the server brought the wine and some amazing bread and compound butter. (That bread is a carboholics dream)!

When the server returned I had finally decided on an appetizer. I wanted to choose something that I had never had before so I opted for the Steamed P.E.I. Mussels. They offered one of three preparations: (1) in a sherry, with lemon and fresh garlic butter; (2) balsamic tomato, white wine and garlic; or (3) Sambuca, fresh spinach and chive blanco. I opted for the first preparation choice because I love all of the components.

For my meal I chose the Cappellini O’ Porto which sounded very much like one of my old favorites from another restaurant (but a chain) from years back. The Cappellini O’Porto is a beautiful combination of balsamic marinated tomatoes, portabella mushrooms, fresh basil and capers served over fresh cappellini pasta. I added chicken breast to the dish and a Naples Caesar Salad to my meal. It had fresh romaine lettuce tossed with their homemade eggless dressing, Kalamata olives and parmesan cheese.

It was my impression that our server had great communication with the kitchen because our courses were timed very appropriately.

The appetizer… The mussels were served hot and had the most delicious flavor. I was so happy that my husband didn’t want any because I could have ordered a second one they were so delicious.

The Caesar salad was great! You could definitely tell the dressing was homemade. It had such great flavor and the perfect ratio of ingredients. The only thing I didn’t appreciate was having Kalamata olives with the pits in them. One could chip a tooth or choke on it. Also, if you’re a woman on a date, the last thing you would want is to have to politely discard the pit.

Dinner was served and all was forgiven… All was right with the world again! The aroma from the Cappellini O’Porto was amazing. It was that meal from a fond memory but so much more. The layers of flavor that were developed to create this amazing dish was so bold! The balsamic marinated tomatoes were so delicious and the balsamic vinegar did not overwhelm the dish. The balance was perfect and the portion was large. I was able to enjoy half of it the next day for lunch (my fellow friends were envious). This is something I would certainly order again if I weren’t an adventurous diner. I can’t wait to go back and try something else.

And the dessert course… Because crème brulee is one of my favorites, when the server told me they had a chocolate and raspberry crème brulee on the menu that evening, I had to try it. Once again my husband didn’t want any dessert and I was happy he passed. I ate the entire dessert alone and it was so delicious. Bravo!

Naples Italian Restaurant is the kind of place I would visit once a week. I can’t wait to go back and recommend that you definitely try it.

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