Windber, PA: Not The Best Italian I Have Had, But Well Worth The Drive


Rizzo’s Restaurant
2200 Graham Avenue
Windber, PA 15963
Phone: (814) 467-7908
Website: rizzosofwindber.com


A little over 20 miles from Interstate 70 and Somerset, Pennsylvania where we stayed in a quaint B&B, we found Rizzo’s when nothing in Somerset looked very interesting for our anniversary dinner.
Al large building in Eastern Windber, the family lives upstairs and the restaurant is downstairs. The restaurant itself is somewhat nondescript with bright lighting. The bar has a little more ambience, but we were seated in the “hallway” behind the bar, a high traffic area with little charm.

The service was friendly and efficient. I started with the house Burgundy ($4.50), coming in a small glass, it was chilled and somewhat sweet as expected of most inexpensive burgundies. My wife ordered the Fettucine Maria ($13.50), homemade fettucine noodles with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and peas in a light alfredo sauce. The noodles were perfectly cooked, but the sauce was rather bland. My wife, who is Italian and rarely adds grated cheese to her pasta, had to resort to the shaker of parmesan (parmigiano) in order to add some flavor. I had the Veal Parmigiana ($17.95), a large and very tasty cutlet topped with a delicious homemade marinara sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and baked or broiled until melted.

The New York Cheesecake ($4.75) was rich and delicious, as good as any I have had whether or not in was made in-house. The owner’s son stopped by to chat briefly, then brought me a small glass of homemade orangecello (orange version of limoncello) as a digestivo (after dinner drink to aid in digestion).

My only gripes were the small, inexpensive, cold glass of burgundy (I was expecting something different), no soup or salad with the meal, the rather bland fettucine sauce, and the absence of much atmosphere in the restaurant. However, for under $50, Rizzo’s was a very good value and well worth the nearly 30 mile drive.

CombatCritic Gives Rizzo’s 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Rizzo's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato






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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

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Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

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Rizzo's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Title: Windber, PA: Not The Best Italian I Have Had, But Well Worth The Drive

Key Words: Rizzo’s, Rizzo, Italian, restaurant, food, pasta, parmigiana, veal, alfredo, Windber, PA, Pennsylvania, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”
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Malara’s: Scrambled Egg Carbonara?


Malara’s
2123 Pierce Street Omaha, NE 


Prices: $$$$$

With a dearth of good Italian restaurants in our hometown of Lawrence (Kansas), we decided to try Malara’s on a recent trip to Omaha after having read the rave reviews on Yelp. After our dinner, however, I am left wondering how this place ended up with 4 stars.


The place is huge and the decor a bit tacky, looking as if it has not been redecorated since the 1970’s. We were seated quickly, but ignored for the first ten minutes we were there. I had to grab a wine list from another table because I could not get the server’s attention, had I known whom he or she was.

Dinners come with a salad and although fresh, there was nothing but lettuce and that was drenched in an oil and vinegar dressing. The “bread” were rolls that looked as if they came out of a bag and heated in the oven.

My wife had the spaghetti carbonara ($11.95). The spaghetti was pretty good, advertised as being homemade, but the sauce was too oily and there was hardly any bacon in sight. Instead of adding raw egg to the finished dish before tossing the pasta, they added scrambled eggs, something I have never seen done before.

I had the veal parmigiana, ($16.95) which was not bad, but far from the best I have eaten. The portion size was adequate, the sauce pretty good, although a bit sweet for my taste, and the cheese melted to perfection. As is the case in most Italian (American) restaurants, there was far too much sauce on the pasta, but it tasted OK. When I asked the server if we could get some more bread, I was told that it would cost an “extra 25 cents each”, so we SPLURGED! Enough said.

Removing the scrambled egg carbonara and 25 cent bread rolls from the equation, I would have likely given Malara’s 5, maybe 6, bombs out of 10 for the very average food at reasonable prices (value). Lose the scrambled eggs and give folks an extra roll or two … is another 50 cents really worth upsetting customers over?


CombatCritic Gives Malara’s 4 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!






Malara's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon








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Key Words: Malara’s, malara, Italian, restaurant, Omaha, Nebraska, NE, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, menu, pasta, veal, carbonara

Uwe’s: Great, Filling German Food, Reasonable Prices … NUFF SAID!


Uwe’s German Restaurant

Category: German
31 Iowa Ave
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
(719) 475-1611

Price Range: $$$$$


I have been eating at Uwe’s since the late 1980’s and nothing has changed, not a single thing except the prices and they are still very fair!

Large portions, rich sauces, tender schnitzel, succulent bratwürst, homemade späetzel, fresh bread, delicious salads, frothy beer, and zesty goulash, everything you would expect from a German restaurant, all set the tone for authentic German dining right here in Colorado Springs.

My favorite is the wiener (veal) schnitzel cordon bleu, two breaded veal cutlets stuffed with ham and cheese then baked to gooey perfection, served with a side of Hunter’s (mushroom) sauce, crispy home fries, and veggie of the day. Meals are preceded by fresh pumpernickel bread and an assortment of German potato salad, crisp greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers topped with a light vinaigrette dressing or soup.

The roulade is a traditional Bavarian stuffed cabbage with ground meat, rice, and spices enveloped with fresh cabbage leaves and topped with a light tomato sauce, accompanied by German potato dumplings (späetzel) and red cabbage.

For those with a zest for the spicy, the Hungarian Paprika Schnitzel ($14.25) is a good choice and the Jäegerschnitzel ($14.25), breaded pork cutlets covered with a thick mushroom sauce is always a hearty, filling, rib-sticking meal.

Uwe’s has a nice selection of beer, domestic and import, with the Wärsteiner Dünkel, a dark, frothy, delight being my go-to beer for German meals. Desserts are traditional and inexpensive with apple strüdel ($3.50) and ice cream ($.50) taking center stage for those with voracious appetites and room leftover for a little sweetness.

The service is always good and, as you would expect in a German establishment, efficient with little small talk while remaining friendly and helpful.

CombatCritic Gives Uwe’s German Restaurant 9 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Uwe's German Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Uwe’s, Uwe, German, restaurant, 80909, food, schnitzel, weiner, veal, wine, beer, Jäeger, Jäegermeister, Wärsteiner, dünkel, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Colorado Springs

My Favorite Restaurant In The Whole World, Owned By A Good Friend … PALERMO RISTORANTE ITALIANO (LA)


PALERMO RISTORANTE ITALIANO (ORIGINAL – LA)
1858 N. Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Neighborhood: Los Feliz
(323) 663-1178
palermorestaurant.net
Prices: $$$$$
While in LA, my hometown, you should try Palermo on Vermont near Sunset Blvd. Tony, the owner, is an old friend and I was one of his ORIGINAL customers when they were in the original shoebox over on Hillhurst. 

The place is a Hollywood landmark with photos of stars all over the walls, including CombatCritic! There’s a small photo of me in Palermo, Tony’s hometown, near the front door and an 8×10 of me in uniform high on the right wall as you go back to the  men’s loo. At least they used to be there! Make sure you tell Tony that LtCol Chris Sorrentino said “HI” if you go! You’ll get the royal treatment. 

The food is excellent, home style Sicilian, not “gourmet”, with thick red sauce, massive portions, and reasonable prices. The veal parmigiana is my favorite and their pizza is TO DIE FOR. Free wine while you wait, which is commonplace between 5:30 and 8pm, and the cannoli are wonderful, possibly ON THE HOUSE if Tony is there and you tell him you know me. Tell him I’ll try to get out there soon and BUON ANNO … a presto amico!

CombatCritic Gives Palermo Ristorante Italiano The Coveted And Rarely Bestowed 10 Out of 10 BombsLE BOMBE SONO BUONE!

Palermo Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon


Key Words: Palermo Ristorante Italiano, Italian, restaurant, Los Angeles, California, Hollywood, Los Feliz, food, pizza, pasta, veal, parmigiana, cannoli, Tony, CombatCritic, Chris, Sorrentino, TravelValue

Paravicini’s – An Old Colorado City Favorite … Great Food, Reasonable Prices


 Paravicini’s Italian Bistro

Authentic Foods – Great Service – Quality Atmosphere
2802 W Colorado Ave, 
Colorado Springs, CO 80904-2444
(719) 471-8200 

Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30am – 9:00pm
Fri-Sat 11:30am – 10:00pm


Paravicinis.com

I have been eating at Paravicini’s since they opened in 2003 and have not been disappointed once. Ted Sexton and Franco  Pisani, the owners, opened their doors, just minutes from our Old Colorado City home, to rave reviews and Franco, the head chef, deserves every one of them. The food is and always has been consistent, reasonably priced, and made with quality ingredients and the wine list robust and reasonable as well.

Appetizers include many of the Italian specialties you would expect, including calamari, fried mozzarella, mussels, bruschetta (pronounced bru-ske-ta, not bru-she-ta as many Americans mistakenly do), and assorted meats, cheeses, and marinated vegetables among others. I stopped ordering appetizers a long time ago because you can expect an abundance of food from ordering the main course including pasta (full meals or as sides), meats (veal, chicken and steak prepared in an abundance of sauces), salad (served family style – Ceasar is $2 extra per person) and fresh baked bread (keep bringing it!).


Pastas include many regulars including spaghetti and meatballs (a dish you will never see in Italy), manicotti, lasagna, ravioli, rigatoni, and gnocchi (small potato dumplings) in portions even the biggest eaters will not be disappointed by, but the meat dishes are not to be missed!

The veal dishes are the best value on the menu, just a buck or two more than the pastas and chicken dishes, served in a variety of sauces second to none. My favorites, not on the menu but available nonetheless, are the Veal (vitello in Italian) Saltimbocca (veal scallopini – medallions – covered with prosciutto and mozzarella, then baked and served in a lemon butter and sage sauce over angelhair pasta) and the Veal Capricosa (veal medallions covered with mozzarella then baked and served with sauteed prosciutto, mushrooms, and onion over angelhair). Other favorites are the Veal Toscano (veal scaloppini sautéed with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts, finished in a roasted garlic cream sauce), Veal Porcini (sautéed veal scaloppini in a porcini mushroom brandy cream sauce), and for those who enjoy hot and spicy, the Veal Giuseppe (veal scaloppini sautéed with spicy Italian sausage, onions, hot and sweet peppers, capers, olive, garlic & olive oil). All veal dishes are between $16.95 and $18.95 and served with salad, fresh, hot bread, and pasta, very reasonable for the quality of the milk-fed veal and portion sizes.  


The wine selection is moderate and varied, with glasses or bottles available at a fair price. A full bar is available for those who wish to partake.

Desserts, which I have been able to order only on a few occasions because of the robustness of the meals, are excellent and include classic tiramisu and delicious cannoli (tubular stuffed with a sweet ricotta cream), a specialty of the island of Sicily, my wife’s original home.

Paravicini’s, a name that is actually a bit redundant due to the fact that words ending in “i” are always plural in the Italian language, is a Colorado Springs treasure. Located in historic Old Colorado City, offers a wonderful American-style (Italians would never think of eating meat and pasta together) Italian meal with the opportunity to stroll through the historic district after dinner to digest before going on your way…buon appetito!







CombatCritic gives Paravicini’s a whopping nine out of ten bombs for quality, value, and consistency … BOMBS ARE GREAT!

Cascone’s Italian Restaurant – Good, Consistent American-Style Italian Food, Large Portions at MODERATE Prices (April 2013 Update)


Cascone’s (North Oak)

3733 North Oak Trafficway
Kansas City, MO 64116
(816) 454-7977


www.Cascones.com


$$$ (PREVIOUSLY $$)

Ponte Vecchio – Florence, Italy
I am an Italian-American, was raised by first generation immigrants from the hills between Napoli (Naples) and Bari on the Adriatic Sea, lived in Italy for three years on assignment with the U.S. Air Force, and married an Italian (Sicilian to be precise), so we travel there often to see family and enjoy the wonderful cuisine.

Traditional Italian food (in the old country) only resembles what we call “Italian” here and you have not lived until you have eaten a traditional Italian meal…in Italy. Dinner in Italy normally does not start until 9PM and rarely ends before midnight. Starting with the antipasto, you may have assorted fresh meats and cheeses, prosciutto e melone (cured Italian ham from Parma and melone which is Italian cantaloupe – a traditional antipasto during the warm summer months), or, my favorite, insalata caprese (fresh buffalo mozzarella with bright red tomato slices drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with fresh basil leaves). Fresh homemade bread always accompanies your meal, but you may be charged a “coperto” (cover) of one or two euros for the bread and place setting. Primo (or the first dish) is next and usually consists of soup or pasta, an infinite variety of freshly made pastas mixed with an equally infinite number of sauce combinations. All the while, you sip bottled water (with or without gas…bubbles) and some of the most delicious wines in the world, usually locally made, if not on the premises. Next comes the secondo (or main dish), usually meat or fish, simply prepared and accompanied by contorni (vegetables, potatoes, and salad…yes, salad comes with the main dish, not before your meal). Italians would never think of eating pasta and meat (or fish) on the same plate, so the traditions you see in the U.S. (e.g. Olive Garden…excuse me while a vomit a little in my mouth) DEFINITELY did not originate in Italy. Finally, a digestivo, a liquor such as grappa, amaretto, or, my favorite, limoncello, is served before cafe (what you call espresso (cappuccino is never drunk after morning and is considered a woman’s drink) and dolce (dessert), usually something simple like fruit and cheese or biscotti (cookies).


My wife and I have been going to Cascone’s for three years and have never had a bad meal. Some were not as good as others were, but never bad. My Sicilian spouse has grown accustomed to the American version and, even though nontraditional (in her eyes anyway), Cascone’s is one of her favorites. Strong praise indeed from an Italian citizen.



We inevitably arrive on Sunday evening and the soup selection (all entrees come with soup or salad and a loaf of fresh baked bread) is very limited, rather predictable, and mostly boring..chicken of one sort or another with noodles or rice.


The salad with the house dressing (an olive oil and vinaigrette) is always good, but inconsistent. Sometimes you get olives, artichoke heart, and croutons, sometimes not. I order the blue cheese crumbles on the side and get a twist of fresh cracked pepper. Very good salad and the great bread makes up for the lack of consistency in ingredients (croutons for example). … UPDATE … THE NEW MENU ) AS OF APRIL 2013) IS NOW ALA CARTE (AGAIN … WE HAVE BEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE) AND SOUP OR SALAD ARE NOW EXTRA WITH A HOUSE SALAD GOING FOR AN ADDITIONAL $3.50 WITH AN ENTREE.  INSTEAD OF GETTING THE WARM LOAF OF SESAME SEED TOPPED OF WARM, CRUSTY BREAD IS NOW A COUPLE OF PIECES IN A BASKET … BOOOOOO!

The antipasto selection is limited and non-traditional, including the “Italian Nachos” a huge concoction that looks filling, but not appetizing. With the size of the entrees and the soup/salad, you will not need an antipasto anyway. If you do, get the steamed artichoke (when it is in-season) and share it with your guest.
I love veal and their veal parmigiana is superb. Pounded thin, lightly breaded, and pan fried, you get two large escallops on a bed of spaghetti (I order the mastacioli instead, a type of large penne). I do not like that the meat covers the pasta and inevitably have to dig the pasta out to scrape enough sauce together to cover the mastacioli, sometimes having to ask for extra marinara to cover the white bits. The servers are skimpy on the hand grated parmigianno-reggiano cheese, so I usually have them fill up my bread plate and scatter the cheese as I see fit.  


… UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE … 


EVEN THOUGH THE MENU HAS CHANGED TO ALA CARTE AGAIN, AND PRICES HAVE GONE UP, PORTIONS ARE SMALLER.  MY MASTACIOLI LAST NIGHT WAS NOT DRAINED WELL AND THE SAUCE WAS WATERY.  CASCONE’S MARINARA SAUCE IS VERY GOOD, BUT WATER, UNFORTUNATELY, DOES NOT ADD TO THE FLAVOR … ANOTHER BOOOOOOO!


I have had the veal marsala and it is not like any marsala dish I have ever tried. They use green (bell) peppers and onions in addition to the more traditional mushrooms, a combination that does not quite work with a delicate marsala sauce. I would not bother with this dish if I were you.


The chicken spedieni is very good and bountiful, but everything comes with pasta and marinara sauce, so if you want alfredo or olive oil and garlic, which would be more appropriate, be prepared to pay extra.

The pasta dishes are good and my wife usually orders the tortelonni Savina Maria, large shells stuffed with veal and cheese in a white sauce with mushrooms, peas, and pieces of prosciutto (cannot tell if it is cotto or crudo). It is very good and enough for one very hungry person of two light eaters (be prepared to be charged if you share, they charge for everything not priced on the menu). She also likes the Pasta Asiago, bowtie pasta in a crème sauce with broccoli and mushrooms (and chicken if you want to pay extra). The Pasta Asiago comes with tomatoes, but my wife is intolerant to tomatoes (can you believe it, an Italian woman that does not eat tomatoes, drink wine, or cook!).  There are a couple pizza choices (two to three depending  on the menu) and are decent, being the single serving (one person) size and much smaller than their Naepolitano (from Naples, Italy) cousins…VERY DISTANT COUSINS!
I have never had room for dessert, but the choices are traditional and look good so go for it if you have room.
The wine list (and menu) change as often my brother’s underwear, so do not become too attached to any particular maker or vintage. The house wines are pretty good and come in various varieties and at $6 per glass, are a relative bargain … 


… UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE … 


We returned for dinner on April 26th, 2013 and the menu had changed once again! THE WINE LIST IS VERY DIFFERENT … WINE BY THE GLASS ARE NOW $8 TO $11 AND UP!  BOTTLES MAY HAVE RISEN, BUT ARE NOW A MUCH BETTER VALUE.  MANY “UPSCALE” RESTAURANTS CAN GET AWAY WITH $8 TO $11 GLASSES OF WINE, BUT CASCONE’S IS NOT THAT KIND OF RESTAURANT AND THESE PRICES ARE GOING TO HURT WINE SALES BECAUSE CASCONE’S HAS A LARGE SENIOR CITIZEN CUSTOMER BASE AND IN TODAY’S ECONOMY, FOLKS ARE NOT GOING TO PAY THE EQUIVALENT OF $60 FOR A $25 TO $30 BOTTLE OF WINE. 



As I said, we have been going to Cascone’s practically every Sunday for five years, so you would think the wait staff would know us by name by now. They do not. The receptionist is quite friendly and knows us by face, but do not expect to be called by name by any of the staff, no matter how long you have been going there. Service is friendly enough and things get done on time (mostly), but they do not chit chat and seem to care less who you are. After all, I am there for food and companionship with my table mates, not to make friends with the wait staff. 


… UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE …

OUR SERVER LAST NIGHT WAS WONDERFUL AND VERY FRIENDLY AND ACCOMMODATING, EVEN THOUGH SHE NEVER TOLD US HER NAME … THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND EXCELLENT SERVICE … WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS!

CombatCritic NOW gives Cascone’s (North Oak) ONLY 6 out of 1o BOMBS … BOMBS in this case are good!


CombatCritic’s BOMB ratings are based on “VALUE” … quality of the food, service, ambience compared to the prices, so the drastic price changes in the case of Cascone’s dropped their score one BOMB … SORRY FREINDS!

Cascone's Italian on Urbanspoon

On the Front Lines in the Battle Against Overpriced Food

An "Old Colorado City" Favorite – Consistency, Quality … Paravicini’s


 Paravicini’s Italian Bistro

Authentic Foods – Great Service – Quality Atmosphere
2802 W Colorado Ave, 
Colorado Springs, CO 80904-2444
(719) 471-8200 

Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30am – 9:00pm
Fri-Sat 11:30am – 10:00pm


Paravicinis.com

I have been eating at Paravicini’s since they opened in 2003 and have not been disappointed once. Ted Sexton and Franco  Pisani, the owners, opened their doors, just minutes from our Old Colorado City home, to rave reviews and Franco, the head chef, deserves every one of them. The food is and always has been consistent, reasonably priced, and made with quality ingredients and the wine list robust and reasonable as well.

Appetizers include many of the Italian specialties you would expect, including calamari, fried mozzarella, mussels, bruschetta (pronounced bru-ske-ta, not bru-she-ta as many Americans mistakenly do), and assorted meats, cheeses, and marinated vegetables among others. I stopped ordering appetizers a long time ago because you can expect an abundance of food from ordering the main course including pasta (full meals or as sides), meats (veal, chicken and steak prepared in an abundance of sauces), salad (served family style – Ceasar is $2 extra per person) and fresh baked bread (keep bringing it!).


Pastas include many regulars including spaghetti and meatballs (a dish you will never see in Italy), manicotti, lasagna, ravioli, rigatoni, and gnocchi (small potato dumplings) in portions even the biggest eaters will not be disappointed by, but the meat dishes are not to be missed!

The veal dishes are the best value on the menu, just a buck or two more than the pastas and chicken dishes, served in a variety of sauces second to none. My favorites, not on the menu but available nonetheless, are the Veal (vitello in Italian) Saltimbocca (veal scallopini – medallions – covered with prosciutto and mozzarella, then baked and served in a lemon butter and sage sauce over angelhair pasta) and the Veal Capricosa (veal medallions covered with mozzarella then baked and served with sauteed prosciutto, mushrooms, and onion over angelhair). Other favorites are the Veal Toscano (veal scaloppini sautéed with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts, finished in a roasted garlic cream sauce), Veal Porcini (sautéed veal scaloppini in a porcini mushroom brandy cream sauce), and for those who enjoy hot and spicy, the Veal Giuseppe (veal scaloppini sautéed with spicy Italian sausage, onions, hot and sweet peppers, capers, olive, garlic & olive oil). All veal dishes are between $16.95 and $18.95 and served with salad, fresh, hot bread, and pasta, very reasonable for the quality of the milk-fed veal and portion sizes.  


The wine selection is moderate and varied, with glasses or bottles available at a fair price. A full bar is available for those who wish to partake.

Desserts, which I have been able to order only on a few occasions because of the robustness of the meals, are excellent and include classic tiramisu and delicious cannoli (tubular stuffed with a sweet ricotta cream), a specialty of the island of Sicily, my wife’s original home.

Paravicini’s, a name that is actually a bit redundant due to the fact that words ending in “i” are always plural in the Italian language, is a Colorado Springs treasure. Located in historic Old Colorado City, offers a wonderful American-style (Italians would never think of eating meat and pasta together) Italian meal with the opportunity to stroll through the historic district after dinner to digest before going on your way…buon appetite!
Paravicini's Italian Bistro on Urbanspoon






CombatCritic gives Paravicini’s a Whopping 9 out of 10 Bombs for quality, value, and consistency … BOMBS ARE GREAT!











Key Words: 80907, Colorado, Colorado Springs, CombatCritic, critic, fast food, Paravicini, Paravicini’s, restaurant, TravelValue, veal, wine