On Friday after our long lunch, it was high time for a nap. Joni and I both crashed as soon as we got back to the house. A little later that evening it was time for our next meal. Tony owns his own business and works from home, so it’s normally just me and Joni for lunch, and then he joins us for dinner. As usual, it took us a good 20 minutes to decide where to eat. We finally agreed on Inzo Italian Kitchen. I had been there once before and really enjoyed it.
Inzo is located in Roanoke, a very small community about 15 minutes from their house. It’s a cute area, with mainly homes and restaurants. They don’t have an official patio, so when the weather cooperates they open the floor-to-ceiling glass wall at the front of the restaurant and move the pub-height tables and chairs out onto the main sidewalk.
Friday night the wall was closed and they just had a couple of short cocktail tables and a few chairs. I’m guessing they felt it was too hot to have outdoor seating, because then there’s no protection from the heat for the inside diners. The inside seats about 75, and when we arrived there was about a 20-minute wait. We sat at the bar and had a glass of wine while we waited.
I really like the built-in shelving behind the bar to store and display the wine and glassware. It was very unique and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before. The restaurant is comprised of a combination of tables and booths. The open kitchen is at the back of the restaurant, with a brick pizza oven. One of the chefs was throwing up the pizza dough in the air and I tried to get video, but every time I either just missed it or someone was walking in front of me. I haven’t seen that since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that.
We were seated at a booth near the front, right behind the host stand and waiting area. Then we waited and waited. We had waited quite a while at the bar as well; there was just one bartender and he was pretty slow. We thought that was really odd for a Friday night to only have one. I saw the bartender come over and talk to the table right around the corner from ours, and was apologizing for them not getting their food, and he comped their meal. And a few minutes later we saw him apologizing to another table who didn’t like their food. We figured that he was either the manager or the owner. And that they were struggling that night. Thinking back, when we were told it would be a 20-minute wait I thought it was kind of odd because there were a couple of empty tables. They must have been really short-staffed. Finally our server came over. She thought we had already been taken care of since we had the drinks, and apologized. But we really didn’t mind because we had just been visiting. And also, the manager/owner gets a pass for not being fast behind the bar!
As we looked at the menu our server brought out bread. The first batch she brought was just 3 pieces and they didn’t look that great. But a few minutes later she returned with double that, as well as the dipping sauces
The bread was warm and really good. The olive oil was pretty good, as was the butter, but the balsamic vinegar was by far the star. It was thick and rich and extremely flavorful. I really wanted to eat more bread so I could have more vinegar, but I stopped myself.
We also decided to start with an appetizer. At the server’s suggestion, we got the mixed bruschetta
I can’t even decide which one was my favorite, because they were all fantastic. It was all served on the same bread as what they bring to the table first. Had I known that, I would have only had one piece of bread in the beginning instead of 2. Oh well, lesson learned. Tony and I both put some of the balsamic on our bruschetta. But it was challenging because you needed a spoon to get it out properly, and the knife just didn’t do the trick. I was going to ask, but it wasn’t worth the hassle. I think they should drizzle a little balsamic over the bruschetta. Or give you a little side of it that you can easily pour on.
For dinner, Tony got the penne chicken pesto, Joni got the Bianca pizza, and I got the baked bufala ziti. We split our meals so we got to try some of each.
The glaring negative is the pasta dishes weren’t very hot. It was the same thing last time. I’m not sure if that is standard in Italy, but I was disappointed. I much prefer it to be too hot when I first get my food. But this was the only down side.
I had gotten the penne chicken pasta last time, and it was just as good as I remembered. Even though the pesto was creamy, it wasn’t super heavy.
We had never heard of bufala, and looked it up. It’s just the Italian way of saying buffalo. I had never eaten buffalo before, so decided to be adventurous. I was not disappointed. Mixed with the pasta, cheese and sauce it tastes like regular ground bef. Then I tried a piece by itself, and the flavor is quite different. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes it so different, but it doesn’t matter because it was really good. The whole dish was excellent, except for the temperature. The sauce was chunky and thick and very flavorful.
Joni’s pizza was screaming hot, and it was outstanding. They weren’t shy at all with the garlic, but that just added to the flavor. As I’m writing this, I just realized there was no basil on the pizza. Or if it was there, it was underneath all the cheese. I wanted to eat more, but I couldn’t because I needed to finish my food.
We must have hit the restaurant right at their major struggle time. Because once we got underway, things slowed down and we didn’t have any issues at all. I definitely want to keep returning. The food is delicious, the service was good, and I really enjoy the atmosphere. Oh, and I’m determined to get a video of the guy tossing the pizza dough.