Primavera’s Italian Ristorante somehow manages to convey a sense of coziness due to atmospheric lighting and a retro soundtrack of warm music by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and their ilk.
It would be easy to drive past Primavera’s Italian Ristorante a hundred times and never notice it.
Located in a Lake Cable-area strip mall between Fiddlestix Billiard Cafe and Dollar General, Primavera’s sign is not easy to spot from the road.
But it is certainly worth the effort to locate this Italian-cuisine oasis, which just celebrated its fourth anniversary. Primavera’s is owned by second-generation local Italian-American restauranteur Sylvester “Butch” Premier II. The chef is Valerie Bishop, a Pittsburgh Culinary Institute grad who previously worked at Glenmoor Country Club.
Roughly the size of an airplane hangar, Primavera’s somehow manages to convey a sense of coziness due to atmospheric lighting and a retro soundtrack of warm music by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and their ilk. There are linen table cloths and cloth napkins.
A leisurely recent Thursday-night visit unfolded without a flaw, beginning with an appealing and attentive server who knew the menu inside and out and offered enthusiastic recommendations.
From the appetizer menu, scarola e fagioli ($7.95) was a winning choice, and large enough to serve as an entree. A traditional Italian dish known as “beans and greens,” this was a large bowl of white beans, escarole, garlic, mild Italian sausage and chopped tomatoes simmered into a rich broth and served with triangles of crusty garlic toast.
“All of our appetizers eat like dinner,” Bishop said, noting that the popular breaded calimari ($10.95) is similarly generous in size.
Mussels, sausage-stuffed banana peppers, shrimp cocktail are among other starters.
A cup of wedding soup ($2.50) was flavorful in a slow-simmered way and included a tender meatball of ground veal and beef. Warm, hard-crusted rolls baked on premises were served with butter pats dusted with parsley flakes.
The chicken and cheese ravioli entree ($15.95) was exquisite. Homemade ravioli filled with smoked chicken and fontina cheese are tossed with a light and brothy sauce of cooked-down Marsala wine and mushrooms, then topped with sauteed mushrooms and melted parmesan cheese.
The stuffed eggplant ($14.95) was hearty, generous and delicious. Sliced eggplant is breaded and flash-fried, then rolled around ricotta cheese. Three of these rolls, roughly the size of large Chinese eggrolls, were served with a large side of pasta, all of it topped with the spicy house red sauce. It was large enough to make a second meal out of it.
Accompanying the dinners were iceberg salads with tomato, cucumber and onion. The house Italian (red wine vinaigrette) and homemade white French dressings are recommended. Crumbled bleu cheese is $1 extra.
The menu offers a range of entrees, from numerous traditional pasta favorites (lasagna, stuffed shells, rigatoni with sausage and peppers) to seafood, steaks, chicken and chops. Plus, there are daily specials.
“I’ve tried a few specials that have really taken off,” Bishop said. “I do a real hearty seafood stew with scallops, clams, mussels, shrimp, whitefish, peppers and onions and our red sauce served with garlic bread. It’s winter comfort food. Our panko-crusted walleye with a vodka cream sauce is a big seller.”
Page 2 of 2 - Open for lunch weekdays and supper Monday through Saturday, Primavera’s has full bar service. A banquet room is available at no charge, with a refundable $100 deposit.