Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pastabilities Italian Grill, Decatur

Central Illinois is loaded with independent Italian restaurants, most of them inexpensive and very good. There's no reason to buy spaghetti in a bucket around here. I'm going to tell you about my favorite Italian restaurant and I want you to leave me a comment about yours.

In 2003 a new restaurant opened in downtown Decatur promising good prices and good Italian dishes. B and I were thrilled and so were most of our friends. After the first trip to Pastabilities it was added to our regular rotation. It has definitely changed since it opened, mostly for the better. The owners seem like they are constantly looking to improve the dining experience.

I love the ambiance at Pastabilities. A lot of Decatur restaurants don't seem to put much thought into the feel of the building, but Pastabilities really feels upscale and well decorated. I also like that there are several different kinds of seating. In the front you can sit at cafe tables with umbrellas. In the middle there is room for larger groups. There is a nice bar in the back as well as more romantic booths. I like to sit in the front because I always see people I know on the street or coming in the door.

It's hard to say what dish I like best at Pastabilities because I don't have a "usual" like I do when I eat at a Mexican restaurant. The Chicken Marsala is normally very good as is anything with the creamy tomato sauce. The bread sticks are always toasty and fresh. The sangria is hit or miss, but when it's on it's awesome. Pastabilities offers a few Italian beers and lots of Illinois wine. The waitstaff seems to draw heavily from Millikin and the servers are always pleasant and chatty. Most of the entrees are under $15.


Jeep2000 said...

Bernardi's in Washington is our favorite Italian family restaurant. It's down-to-earth and serves good food and awesome fried chicken.
For straight Italian, Paparazzi in Peoria gets our vote, with Ponte Vecchio a close second.

Leeanthro said...

I used to like the Great Impasta in Champaign, but it's under new ownership. (If you've seen the owner, you would probably agree he's not Italian. Could be, but I'm guessing not.)

My father, who was born in Italy, liked to go to Minecci's when he lived here. I've only been there a couple of times. My Nonna said it wasn't as good as her cooking. But then again, what is?

lbotp said...

I don't have a favorite Italian restaurant because at the risk of sounding whiny, there is no good Italian food in C-U!

Sally said...

The owners are pretty great people, too. Their background is in Fast Food -- both from McDonald's. They run a tight ship and keep their family involved -- they even have a room in the back so their kids can hang out there and the family can spend time together. It's definintely a place you can feel comfortable taking your kids and still feel like you're eating good food.

And their Tiramisu is phenomenal. And their salad is virtually indistinguishable from Olive Garden's, which I love dearly, so that's a big selling point!