Thursday, September 24, 2009


Restaurant: Grisanti's
Address: 10875 West Dodge Road
Genres: Italian
Check Constraints: 15% gratuity for parties of 8 or more
Chain: Regional.| More Omaha Locations: No.

  • Diet Coke ($2.19)
  • Oven-Baked Mushrooms ($6.79)
  • Chicken Fra Diavolo ($7.99)
  • Garlic Bread
  • Salad
One of the random reviews that showed up on the internet for Grisanti's while we were doing reconnaissance said, rather cryptically, "Good food, there are lots of appetizers that come out before the meal". I was rather confused by the statement. Was the writer shocked that his appetizers were delivered prior to the entree? Did the restaurant offer an antipasto platter? Was, perhaps, it just the meaningless ramblings of someone on the internet?

As it turns out, it's the closest to the second case. Grisanti's entrees come with, not unlike an Olive Garden, salad or soup, and unlimited garlic bread. Unlike Olive Garden's breadsticks, however, their garlic bread is eight slices of a butter-and-garlic-soaked loaf, served on a metal plate over a votive candle, so it remains warm as it sits on the table - not that it's going to sit there for long. The stuff is fantastic, and when the butter comes off on your fingers when you pick up a piece, you know there's some delicious times ahead. I opted for the salad with my entree, and wasn't disappointed, but wasn't really wowed. Unless you've got a serious yen for roughage I recommend going with the soups - there's enough dressing on the salad you'll probably net about the same calories.

ND ordered an appetizer sampler, which was good, but between the salad, the bread, that and the mushrooms I'm about to discuss, I was nearly full before I even saw my entree - next time we'll be more prepared for the onslaught of food. The mushrooms were, by the by, excellent - they were stuffed with a cheese sauce and a mixture of meats. It nearly overpowered the mushroom, but there was enough flavor there to make it more than just a carrier for the stuffing. It's a tad expensive, coming six to an order (so approximately $1.10 per), but they're pretty delicious. If they came on top of some fettuccine alfredo, I would probably have just eaten it as an entree.

Speaking of. I've had chicken fra diavolo before - chicken and penne in a garlic and bell pepper sauce - but Grisanti's was the first place to include lobster in the sauce, which gave the entire dish a new twist of flavor. It also had a mild (to me, at least) heat to it which was pleasant. I would probably have sopped up the sauce with the remaining bread, but for starters there was no remaining bread, and I was too full to do it anyhow.

The prices here seemed appropriate for the level of food, and everything I tried was delicious. I heavily recommend the place, but only if you don't have an important afternoon meeting in a warm room - otherwise I won't be responsible for the carb-induced coma you slip into at about 3:00. I should also mention that the web menu appears to not be complete when compared to the menu in-restaurant; there are far more appetizers than just soups.

  • Coke ($2.19)
  • Gusto Gusto! (appetizer sampler that doesn't involve shrooms) ($9.00?)
  • Chicken Parmesan ($7.99)
  • Garlic Bread
  • Tomato Tortellini Soup
  • Tiramisu (special)
That garlic bread cannot be exclaimed over enough, honestly. This is the first place I can recall that had endless bread, and it wasn't crappy, it was a large, round loaf, cut in half, with each half cut into four pieces, and the whole thing was slathered with enough garlic to to choke a vampire from across the room, to say nothing of the copious amounts of butter. There was even a delicious, slightly chunky marinara for dipping.

The main parts of the Gusto Gusto platter were the calimari, which was excellent, tender and well breaded, and the cheese and meat breaded ravioli, which were perfectly cooked, and may even be something approaching handmade. They certainly weren't the average Sysco breaded ravioli you get at most places.

It was around this time in the meal that one of the waitresses accidentally dropped a pitcher of ice water right next to me. I didn't get super wet, thanks mainly to my slightly water resistant fishing shirt I wear as a pocket-vest, but they still offered a free dessert by way of apology. Everybody else was way too full by the end of the meal to partake, though, so I got it to go. Sad to say, though it may have been the drive that did it, the tiramisu wasn't anything to be falling over yourself to get.

The best parts of the meal, aside from the garlic bread, were the soup and chicken parm. The chicken parm was a lovely concoction, though the portion seemed a bit on the small side. That may just be my Omaha prejudice talking, though. It was quite good, though not Spaghetti Works good, and the marinara and spaghetti on the side was also decent, but the real star was the simple bowl of tomato tortellini soup.

A bit of background for you. My favorite dish, since I was a young sprout, has been beef stroganoff. But not the beef stroganoff you know. My mom's beef stroganoff, a recipe that has been passed down in our family, which consists mainly of cheap beef boiled for a long time with a bunch of spices, plus tomato paste, water, and sour cream. It's a virulently orange sauce that tastes simply amazing. The tomato tortellini soup here reminded me a LOT of this stroganoff. It's clearly a tomato and cream soup, with a bit of basil and a few other spices, with perfectly done cheese tortellini in it for an extra touch of awesome, but really, I'd have eaten just the soup, with no pasta. For under five bucks, you can get a bottomless bowl of this tomato tortellini soup. In hindsight, it would be worth every freaking penny.

I approve of Grisanti's, of the alfredo I stole a taste of from Mecha, and especially of that tomato tortellini soup. This is by far the best italian we've been to in ages.

  • DietCoke ($2.19)
  • Eggplant Parmesan ($7.99)
  • Baked Onion Soup
Firstly, to echo everybody else's praises, the free bread was amazing. The bread was soft and had butter, garlic, and olive oil slathered into cuts into the top so it would sop and soak deeply. They also gave each of us a small cup of a respectable marinara for dipping. The butter and oil was a bit messy, but that's perfectly forgivable.

The Baked Onion Soup reminded me of a french onion soup. The toasted bread and cheese came melted on top. The beef broth had a rich beef flavor with a pleasantly noticeable taste of the sweet onions. The cheese went mostly unnoticed, however the crouton added a welcomed bit of extra texture. Overall, one of the better french onion soups that I've had.

The Eggplant Parmesan came with a side of spaghetti with marinara and steamed brocolli. The steamed brocolli was lightly buttered and perfectly crunchy. The spaghetti with marinara was spaghetti with marinara. The pasta was well cooked, but the marinara was nothing to get excited about. The eggplant parmesan itself was an immense vertical slice of eggplant lightly breaded then smothered in cheese and the same marinara. Unfortunately, they just sliced it too thin. There wasn't enough eggplant there to appreciate its texture or taste and what taste of eggplant there was was drowned out by the marinara and cheese.


  • Taste of Italy ($13.99)
  • Tomato Tortellini Soup
  • Garlic Bread
As the designated reheater, the bread is not just very good, it reheats well. We really are suckers for bread.

Since it's review time, I went with the Taste of Italy, which is to say, Chicken Parm, Fettucini Alfredo, and Lasagna. I'm not usually a huge fan of alfredo, but this was very good for me. I might even be able to eat it as a dish here. The Chicken Parm was fine, certainly, but it didn't really stand out. Which is a shame, because the lasagna, while not the massive crazy brick of Spaghetti Works, was also pretty good. And again, as designated reheater, the parm and the lasagna both reheated pretty well. Not that that's surprising, but it's good to know when you get hit with a whole bunch of appetizers and some really good bread that if you take it home, it'll work. (I did not leave any alfredo behind to check, but I figured that's for the best. Also, it was good.)

This place seems like it's reasonably costed and has a lot of good offerings. If they stepped up their game on a few things, it'd be amazing. As is, it's still a place I'd enjoy hitting again, maybe when the family's in town.


Anonymous said...

request beer cheese on next entry pls

Lirazel said...

You know that Fra Diavolo sauce is supposed to be on the hot side, yes? The name means "Brother Devil", after all...

NinjaDebugger said...

that's the problem with being a spice hag, unfortunately. What is, for most people, "on the hot side" is, to Cham, nearly undetectable.

Nicki said...

sounds good. i dont like seafood though. but the appetizers sounded good. great reviews!

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Anonymous said...

oh wow, there's a little wheelchair guy next to the word verification. if I fail at captcha, can I get a parking hang tag?

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Chamelaeon said...

Angry Girl won't have to wait much longer for a new review, we hope.

Chamelaeon said...

Nicki - there's plenty here other than seafood, including some of the good standard Italian dishes. Don't let the Chicken Fra Diavolo scare you! And thanks for the comment.

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