Walking up to the famous Monte Carlo Italian Kitchen, one gets a sense of affluence and prosperity. Whether its the wealthy business-people and socialites winning big at the “Belle Epoque” casino or the Formula One cars racing down the final leg of the Monaco Grand Prix, you might ask yourself: “isn’t this a little much for lunch?”
Fortunately this is all a fa§ade. The atmosphere of this Westerville Italian Eatery is more “Suburban Basement Comfort” and less “French Riviera Luxury.” The decor of the Monte Carlo Italian Kitchen, located off of Cleveland Ave on W. Schrock Rd, is stuck somewhere between a 1970s recreation room and a church reception area. None of this is a problem, nor does it have anything to do with the lunch experience. The service was exceptionally friendly and you can expect to get your food and the check without any delay. Most importantly, the portions are generous and the prices are tiny. This is a tough value to pass up.
Now, on to the breakdown.
Juror # 12
I am a fan of any place that gets me in and out under $10. In this case “in and out” also included a fairly large Italian Sub, a side of meatballs and 2 Pepsi Colas. I am also a fan of traditional Italian-American comfort food. You can whine all you want about how a big plate of pasta and red sauce “isn’t really Italian food” and how they’d “never eat that in Italy” and I don’t care. One, I’m Italian. Two, it’s delicious. And three, shut up already.
The Italian Submarine (listed on the menu simply as “Hot Sub”) was the perfect example of how to serve this bad boy. A large, crusty bun that’s baked to perfection and not doughy, tons of cheese that’s melted past the point of gooey and approaching the point of crispy and a garden on top that is LIGHTLY tossed in dressing. The only thing they forgot was the meat. They didn’t actually forget it, but they definitely didn’t impress me with the “one slice of each” mentality which is becoming both an increasingly popular and annoying trend. The sandwich tasted great and might have entered my top 10 Italian sub list if they would have fed me more meat.
The meatballs came floating in a small ocean of red sauce that was so delicious I ate it like it was a soup. This is a big compliment because I am a connoisseur of red sauce and have been know to spend several hours a day making them from scratch. The actual meatballs were pretty average: nothing special but they certainly didn’t screw anything up.
Verdict: 5/8 PJs
This score still seems a little high to me, but there wasn’t enough to complain about.
Juror # 11
When I walked into the Monte Carlo, I felt like I was walking into a dinner party at my grandparents’ house. The room was filled with old artwork and decorations that were all older than me. The room was set up with a mishmash of chairs and tables, like they didn’t know how many guests were going to show to the dinner party so they just scrounged up every chair and table they owned. The clientele could have made up the guests of this ancient dinner party; other than one out-of-place forty-something couple, everyone else was at least 70.
We had a rather late lunch so we were one of only four tables. The service was fast and friendly, but it’s hard to judge what it would have been like with a full dining room. I ordered the Joe-Zep Meatball Sub and an order of garlic bread. The meal was right around nine dollars and it arrived quickly.
The meatballs on the sub were very good, but were horribly spaced throughout the sandwich. This caused me to be overloaded with meat in one bite, and wondering if there were any meatballs at all in other bites. The sauce was alright, but it suffered from horrible spacing, also. The garlic bread was also good, but was just what you would expect to get from most any Italian restaurant.
Overall, the food was alright and so were the prices, but they really didn’t do anything that differentiated themselves from any other Italian restaurant in town. I am having trouble coming up with anything to say because the place was just so average. So, if you’re in the area looking for some cheap Italian food it is probably not a bad place to stop, but I would never drive all the way out there again because there are probably ten restaurants exactly like it between my house and W. Schrock Rd.
Verdict: 4/8 PJs
This restaurant left me with nothing interesting to say here.