Italiani's Family Restaurant Grill & Bar

I got a hot tip recently – a sighting of a pasta making
machine at Italiani’s Family Restaurant Grill & Bar, 3508 E. Lake Street.
That’s pretty rare these days – making pasta by hand is very labor intensive.

Back when I lived in the neighborhood, the place was known as the Lake Street
Garage, and served up malts, burgers, pasta and pizza. I hadn’t set foot inside in years, but when I visited
the other night, it looked pretty much the way I remembered it, except that
some pictures of Ecuador have been added to the basic malt shop d├ęcor. (It
turns out that the new owner is a native of Ecuador, who worked at Gianni’s
Steakhouse in Wayzata and Lord Fletcher’s on Lake Minnetonka before opening his
own place.)

Italiani interior

The menu still offers burgers, malts, shakes, pizza and
pasta, but the new owners have added a few more ambitious daily specials, like
a seafood pasta and a walleye entree. There are no Ecuadorian dishes on the menu,
but the owner told me that they occasionally feature Chaulafan (Ecuadorian-Chinese
fried rice) and Churrasco (steak with fried egg, avocado and plantains) as evening specials. The appetizer
list is mostly State Fair stuff – onion rings, corn dogs, mozzarella sticks. We
opted for the buffalo chicken wings (about a dozen for $6.95) -which were quite
good – crisp skin, moist meat, and just the right level of spice.

fettucine with sausageI didn’t see any pasta machines, but I was assured that the
fettucine really is made from scratch. It’s offered on the menu as fettucine
Alfredo, available with chicken, shrimp or broccoli, but the owner said I could have
it with any pasta I chose. I opted for the pasta with Italian sausage and
Bolognese sauce, ($9.75) which was served with feta, in a meaty tomato sauce, accented
with feta. A very tasty dish, and much more satisfying than the usual Italian-American red sauce fare.

The nightly seafood pasta special ($15.50) didn’t quite live up to its
billing – the menu promised linguine shrimp, scallops and calamari, but we got
shrimp, bay scallops and imitation crab instead – but there were no complaints about the flavor. There are other dishes I would like to sample on a return
visit – the ribeye with home-cut fries ($13.65) and maybe one of the pizzas,
like the spinaci speciale, topped with spinach, parmesan, bacon, sun-dried
tomatoes, smoked cheddar and mozzarella ($14.50/ $17.50).

Italiani’s offers a limited, but decent, list of wines and beers. On Sundays, they offer an all-day brunch, served from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Italiani’s Family Restaurant, Grill & Bar, 3508 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-729-8820