Sunday, May 20, 2012

Formaggio's - Alabaster

We have been watching Formaggio's for months now. So long that I really kind of stopped watching because I had just given up on it. It looked like it opened for a couple of nights a month or two ago and just as we were getting ready to try it was closed again. We finally got our chance on Saturday, May 12th. I honestly have no idea when they officially opened or how long they had been open, but I will say the first impression was generally very nice.

The parking lot, both front and back, was pretty full. I was honestly surprised by how few patrons were in the dining room (I counted maybe 8 tables including us) so I can only assume many of those cars belonged to the staff.

In looking at the menu, the first thing that caught my eye was that they do pizza by the slice. I've always liked that idea, especially since Jeff and I like such different things. Then I noticed they do both thin and "Chicago style" pizzas, but it didn't specify which you could get by the slice. Common sense will say it's the thin kind, but the way it's worded on the menu isn't especially clear. I'm a big fan of chicago style pizza but obviously I'm not going to get one just for myself and Jeff was feeling pasta, so we'll have to save the pizza for another visit.

We got an appetizer of the fried ravioli, which were good but nothing especially outstanding about them. The one down side was that we didn't get any plates so we all ended up double dipping into the sauce (but since it was family I didn't particularly care!) Jeff ordered a side of meatballs with his entree (his favorite test of any new italian place) and those came out as an appetizer, but again, no plates! That was my biggest gripe about the whole experience, which I guess isn't so bad.

Jeff decided to get the Formaggio Combo Pasta which came with spaghetti carbonara, chicken parmigiana, and lasagna along with his side of meatballs. My mother-in-law got the spaghetti with meatballs. I opted for the pepperoni roll. Both Jeff and Barbara's meals came with salad, so Jeff got ranch and Barbara got the house vinaigrette. The other option was soup, but neither the menu nor our server ever said what type. We also got breadsticks, which were obviously made with the pizza dough and were quite tasty. Both had good things to say about the house vinaigrette, and I heard another table talking about how good it was, too.

The entrees came out and they were very good. I tried bites of all of it and was pleased. The one thing I didn't like was the green peas in the carbonara (which I know a lot of people do) and while several menu items included some sort of description, the carbonara didn't have anything. I almost ordered that as my entree but ended up being very glad I didn't because of the peas! My mother-in-law asked for more breadsticks when our entrees came but by the time we got them everyone was just about done with dinner! Nobody ever told us "we're making more" or what the hold up was so I don't know if the waitress simply forgot or what the problem was.

My biggest confusion was the Calzones and Pizza Rolls - Can somebody explain to me what the difference is (other than the shape maybe?) Both were described as having the sauce on the side, so why do both? There were more options for the calzones and their filling, but everything you can get in a pizza roll you can get in a calzone. And even more, why offer different sides? The calzone comes with pasta salad and the pizza roll comes with chips, but you can substitute pasta salad for an extra charge. We aren't talking homemade chips either, I got a small bag of Lay's. The price is pretty much the same (a pepperoni calzone is the same price as my pepperoni pizza roll) so what is the difference? Also, the sandwiches come with french fries with the option to substitute a side salad for an extra charge, but those aren't an option for either of the other two. Also, there's no "make your own" option for either the calzones or pizza rolls, but the menu said you can add extra toppings, so why not? Maybe I'm just over-analyzing this, but it takes up half the space on the menu so I'm curious.

We decided to also order dessert. They had lots of different kinds of cake, plus cheesecake, tiramisu and cannoli. I was excited about trying the cannoli, but just as we were about to order we were told they were out. Seriously? It was only 7:30 on Saturday night!?! Instead, I got orange creamscicle cake, Jeff got strawberry cake, and Barbara got cheesecake. While the strawberry and creamscicle were ok, the cake was a little on the dry side. The icing was good, though. The cheesecake was my favorite, but other than trying a cannoli I don't really see myself going to the trouble of saving room for dessert on future visits.

I'm sure we will return. I still want to try the chicago style pizza, the gnocchi, and the cannoli. However, as of right now, this is definitely not our first choice if we're in the mood for Italian.

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