Be prepared to wait when you visit Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking in Eureka Springs, AR. But it’s well worth it, for amazing Italian food.
Last month I spent a very relaxing weekend in Eureka Springs AR. This was my first visit to Eureka Springs, but definitely won’t be my last. I stayed at a cottage, just steps from downtown, and could walk nearly everywhere. I had read and heard good things about Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking, and originally planned to go for lunch. However, I learned they are only open for dinner, only from 5pm-9pm, and they do not accept reservations. Vance warned me about how crowded Ermilio’s always is; I called Friday evening at about 7:45, and it was still a 90-minute wait. I immediately changed my mind, and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Local Flavor Café instead.
Ermilio’s is less than ¾ mile from the house, so I thought about walking. I am SO GLAD I drove instead, because the hills are absolutely brutal. I swear one hill I drove at a 90 degree angle. Had I tried to walk, I would have turned back.
Ermilio’s is in a converted house. The main floor is the dining room, comprised of tables and booths for 4. Upstairs there is a portable bar, as well as a waiting area with couches and chairs. Ermilio’s provides board games and card games throughout the waiting area. That’s definitely how you know there’s usually a long wait, but it’s a great tool to make people forget the length of time.
I arrived at Ermilio’s just after 5pm, assuming I would get a table almost immediately…I mean who else but the old people eat dinner at 5pm?! Boy, was I wrong. The host said it would be about a 30-minute wait. For a minute I contemplated leaving, but by that point I was on a mission. I sat upstairs to wait, and an hour later realized my name still hadn’t been called. I went downstairs and asked, to ensure I hadn’t missed hearing my name. He said I hadn’t, but I decided to sit and wait as close to him as possible. I believe he did miss me, because he asked the manager for a table for one almost immediately, and less than 5 minutes later I was seated.
I told my server I felt bad, for taking up a 4-top for just me. Her response: “well, for the amount of time you waited, you can take up as much as you want”. Well played. When I looked on the website, I saw a couple of 2-top tables, but didn’t notice any inside the building. With so many couples who do eat there—and solo diners like myself—it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put a couple of small tables close to each other, to be used as 2-tops or pushed together as 4-tops. But who am I?!
Ermilio’s has a small but nice wine list. I had enough wine over the course of the weekend. Besides, with the hills and sharp turns back to the cottage, I needed to be on my game
The Ermilio’s menu isn’t huge. I like that, because I don’t do well with large menus. The menu features appetizers, salads, past, specialties, sides, and homemade desserts. With the pastas, you pick your sauce and then pick your type of pasta. Like Olive Garden, but a million times better. They also offer weekly specials.
Bread comes to the table first.
Yes, that is a bowl of roasted cloves of garlic. I’ve never seen that in a restaurant before, and it is absolutely fantastic. If you’ve never had roasted garlic before, you are missing out. The garlic gets so sweet and soft, and you could truly eat it straight. I was in heaven.
All entrees come with a house salad
The salad is very simple, but for a side salad that’s how it should be. I always get dressing on the side, so I can control how much I use. I got blue cheese, and it is wonderful.
First I looked at the specialties, but nothing really jumped out at me. Besides, I really wanted to try the pasta and sauce combination. I couldn’t decide between the meatballs, pesto or gorgonzola. My server immediately nixed the meatballs, and recommended that I get half pesto and half gorgonzola. I decided not to add any meat to the dish
This is one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. My first bite was a chunk of gorgonzola, and I was immediately in heaven. The cheese sauce is very creamy, but not overly heavy. The pesto is absolutely bursting with flavor. It’s rich but, just like the gorgonzola, not too heavy. I learned how to make pesto a couple of years ago, and make it quite often.
At so many restaurants, the food portions are outrageous. This dish is the perfect size, and you don’t feel stuffed afterwards.
It’s very rare that I ever get dessert, but the Ermilio’s desserts are homemade. After going back and forth on a couple of choices, I settled on the Italian wedding cake, and also got a cup of coffee
I’m not a big fan of pecans, but made an exception in this case. This cake is light, creamy, and extremely flavorful. I can’t tell you the last time I had coconut, and savored every bite. I did decide to show some self-control, and only ate half.
There is no question I’ll be going back to Ermilio’s on my next visit. I’ll just get there at 4:30PM, and wait.
For reviews of more restaurants in Eureka Springs, click on the photos below!