Iozzo’s Garden of Italy Review

Downtown Indianapolis is filled with many faux authentic Italian shops and restaurants that are looking for a quick buck, and Iozzo’s seemed to follow that trend. It delivers a moderately priced menu compared to restaurants with similar food options. However, you can circumvent the wait time for quality of the same by going down the street to a more fast-food type Italian restaurant.

Before even parking in the lot, I had to book a reservation a few days in advance or suffer the long lunch and dinner wait times. Walking up to the restaurant, I was greeted with a pleasant array of different cobblestones and brick. The inside of the restaurant, however, felt like a generic copy of the interior of other Italian restaurants. There was surprisingly little to no music at times. It became a noticeable echo chamber of people talking over one another. It can be hard to hear the people you are with when enjoying a meal.

The menu is very picky-eater friendly. It is filled with many, if not all, of the Italian classics most people growing up in the U.S. experience. From lasagnas to veal to other varied pasta dishes, I felt like I could be equally adventurous and comfortable with my dining choices. The options available also help fill those with dietary restrictions. Gluten-free pasta and whole wheat pasta are available. There was an upcharge to add fresh pasta to any dish, but splurging a little on the more authentic option definitely improved the taste of the dishes I ordered. The pasta offered at no cost was much denser and did not cling as well to the sauce as the fresh pasta.

I chose the “Taste of Iozzo’s for Two,” a full course meal for two people. The overall experience was as if I was eating multiple plates of appetizers, which felt the same as eating at a bar or pub. It would have been much more enjoyable to eat from a selection of dishes rather than a large grouping. Course one included an option of soups and salads, and the second course was brought out in multiple plates.

I chose the Caesar salad for the first meal, which was quite hearty but a small enough portion to leave room. However, the Italian wedding soup could have been a little more flavorful. Course two included a variety of entrees, which looked as though they were going to be quite extraordinary, but many of them were quite flat in terms of flavor. The same was true for the dish “spaghetti Iozzo’s,” which was a bit too sweet for a dinner entrée, and the lasagna Bolognese, which would have benefitted from some actual spices. I felt like I was eating a large mass of meat than a layering of pasta, meat and sauce. The meatballs and chicken piccata were drowned in their accompanying sauce, removing some of the texture of the meats. The dinner did end with the classic Italian cuisine finale, spumoni ice cream, and it was the best part of the meal.

As someone who normally enjoys Italian food, I was rather disappointed with the lack of flavor in each dish. This may have been forgivable, but the high prices and long wait time simply were not worthwhile on a college budget.