Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nino's - Pelham, AL

I have driven by Nino's on several occasions, but until this past week never thought about or had an occasion to stop. We didn't have any real reason for going except I was in the mood for pasta.

We walked in at about 7:45 and the place was just about empty. They were pretty busy by the time we left, but I was a little hesitant walking in! We were greeted warmly, handed menus, and told to order at the counter and they would bring it to our table. I immediately went for the chicken alfredo with penne because it was what I had been craving. Jeff got the baked ziti with meat sauce and a side salad.

Jeff was handed his salad at the counter along with cups for our drinks (which were self-serve) and our order number. We chose a booth in the middle and after just a few minutes were brought a basket of garlic bread. It was made with halves of sandwich rolls which gave me a little giggle, but it wasn't bad. Jeff was a little disappointed with the salad simply because he wasn't given a choice of dressing, it simply came with a cup of the house dressing, which tasted to me like a tomato and basil vinaigrette. Not bad, but I could tell he definitely would have preferred ranch!

Dinner was pretty good. Mine had a choice of linguine or penne and I chose the penne. It was cooked well, had a good ratio of sauce to pasta, and had a good flavor without being too heavy, greasy, or salty (all of which I have encountered in alfredo sauces!) I wasn't terribly impressed with the chicken. It was sliced very thin and sort of just tossed on the top of everything. It actually kind of reminded me of the chicken you often find in frozen food. I ate some of it, but left about half of the chicken. I ate all the pasta though! Next time I'll save the $4 price difference for the chicken and use it for dessert! Jeff's baked ziti looked good. It must have tasted pretty good too because he scarfed it down and I never got a bite!

I definitely got the impression that the red sauces were more their forte. I can't say I'm surprised. Truthfully I was more surprised by the fact that they even had alfredo sauce! Looking over the menu they definitely use it, and it seems that the chicken is more of an after-thought than the sauce! From a managerial standpoint I understand it, because that's the kind of chicken that would do well on pizza (which seems to be the bulk of their business) but as a customer it doesn't seem to be worth the price they charge for it! They had three or four dinner specials for the evening written on a board above the register, but as I looked at the specials and the regular menu, the only thing "special" about them seemed to be that they came with a salad included in the price. The prices seemed to be the same as the regular menu, but we didn't pay that much attention seeing as how neither of us got a special!
I will definitely go back. I would like to try the pizza, the lasagna, the pesto pasta, and the gnocchi. I came very close to getting the gnocchi last time, but was a little scared and really was in the mood for penne alfredo. Over all, from this experience, I'd say it was pretty middle of the road. Nothing really major to complain about, but nothing that jumped out as being spectacular either. Perhaps if I were popping in at lunch for a slice of pizza or calzone, I might feel a little differently.

If you try it, let me know what you think. And if I have any revelations on subsequent visits I will be sure to pass those along as well!

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