My original introduction to this review became yet another vitriolic rage against corporate chains, a passionate spiel I added to my ratings page. What prompted that diatribe was our discovery of Cafe Milano (formerly Rosa’s Italian Kitchen), yet another wonderful mom and pop restaurant competing for hungry diners with middling chains who deign to offer food which can’t grace their mediocre menus unless it goes through rigorous usability testing (can you say human lab rats).
There I go again–railing against chains when I should be on the rooftop singing the praises of Cafe Milano, a “breath of fresh air” Italian restaurant in a city polluted with the likes of Zio’s and Bucca Di Beppo.
Affable proprietors Rick and Rosa Matthews and their wonderful restaurant are the antithesis of the chain restaurants and their artificially sweetened hospitality. With good reason to be very proud of their inaugural restaurant venture, the Matthews greet all patrons with a genuine warmth you can’t fabricate. Being convivial is great, but what will bring us back is the great food–reasonably priced victuals in family sized portions.
The toasted ravioli appetizer–lightly breaded ravioli deep fried and served with a tangy, tomato rich marinara sauce–won us over quickly. We nearly fought for the last one.
The spaghetti with meat sauce is first rate on its own, but treat yourself and ask for meatballs and Italian sausage on the side. Both (especially the Italian sausage) were very good to excellent.
The best way to maximize your dining experience is by ordering the “build your own combination platter” which can be had with your choice of three or four items. If the chicken parmigiana, lasagna and manicotti are any indication, you can’t go wrong no matter what you order.
The manicotti is topped with a three blend Italian cheese combination that will have you crooning “Oh Solo Mio” (oh, only mine). The lasagna is even better if that’s possible. With its luscious layers of pasta, ricotta cheese, Italian sausage crumbles, homemade Italian meat sauce and that marvelous three blend Italian cheese combination, it was the best traditional lasagna we’ve had in the Duke City.
We were thoroughly engorged, wonderfully satiated and wholly won over after our first visit, but best of all we had leftovers enough for dinner the following night.
Cafe Milano is one of those rare gems for which I’m grateful not to follow the line of Pavlovian diners to the corporate cabal.
500 Marquette, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 24 December 2004
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Toasted Ravioli, Manicotti, Sausage, Meatballs