Rigatoni alla amatriciana at La Forchetta di Pasqualone.
Toledo and its environs boast a plethora of high-quality Italian restaurants -- of the homegrown and of the chain varieties.
So if you want to compete, you have to do something to stand out --in a positive way, not a negative one.
It's important to remember that the little things matter. It's essential to have great food, of course, but you also need a nice atmosphere with some mood lighting, background music, and attractive wall hangings.
Unfortunately, La Forchetta di Pasqualone in Oregon lacks those little things -- and it really does matter. The absence of background music means you can hear everyone's conversations, and the aesthetics of the restaurant are outdated. And the the restroom lacks a baby-changing station.
Perhaps the most important thing that can't be overlooked is the service. The servers themselves are friendly and knowledgeable about the food, but the meals take far too long to come to the table.
When they do, however, the food is generally above average.
La Forchetta di Pasqualone * *
Address: 2022 Woodville Rd, Oregon.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average price: $$.
Credit cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: No.
Ratings: * * * * * Outstanding; * * * * Very Good; * * * Good; * * Fair; * Poor.
Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants. The Blade pays for critics' meals.
The small, complimentary bruchetta-style plate presented to our table at the beginning of our dinner visit was a nice touch with a strong garlic flavor and crispy bread.
The calamari fritti appetizer ($7.99), however, was dry and almost inedible.
The soup of the day, tomato florentine, more than made up for that, as it was surprisingly sweet and filling. The rigatoni alla amatriciana ($10.99), with bits of pancetta, onions, and crushed red peppers, was very spicy and helped hide the out-of-the-box taste of the rigatoni; overall, a pleasing dish.
The caesar salad with dinner was tasty with fresh lettuce and the right amount of creamy dressing. The ravioli di ricotta ($10.99) in spinach pasta were large and plump with an ample amount of ricotta cheese. The tomato vodka sauce was good but could have been creamier.
The gnocchi ai quatro formaggio ($11.99) was a nice change of pace from the red sauce. It was creamy and complemented the potato dumplings. The soup, pasta fagioli, came with white beans, which I didn't expect but enjoyed nonetheless.
The fettuccine alla panna with evident homemade alfredo sauce and chicken ($12.99) was the hit of the table. It was very enjoyable and highly recommended.
Cannoli ($4.99) was ordered for dessert. The filling was creamy and delicious, but the shell and chocolate tasted store-bought.
Lunch was a little polarizing because the lasagna alla bolognese ($9.99) was light and tasty but the half di tonno sandwich and caesar salad ($6.99) was disappointing.
The lasagna also would have received better marks if the price had matched the small portion size or vice versa. But it should be noted that lasagna a lot of times comes off as heavy and this one did not, which was a plus.
The tuna tasted as if it had just been thawed, and the salad wasn't fresh, with half of the lettuce wilted.
There seems to be a lot of room for improvement at Pasqualone's, but a lot of promise too.
Contact Bill of Fare at: email@example.com.