Date of visit: November 11, 2014
Submitted by Dinner Editor
500 Loop Rd.
Commerce Twp, MI 48390
This year Veterans Day was unusually warm: warm enough to ride during the day but as far as the temperatures go, this is Michigan and was definitely not warm enough to ride at night, for me anyway. On Veterans Day there were several places that offer free meals as a Thank You to our Veterans, a nice gesture with a time limit: food being served normally between 9- 4. Most restaurants like Applebee’s have a special menu for our Veterans that offer a good variety from the daily menu.
This year the group was invited to an Italian Restaurant for dinner, it was the first time they were offering Veterans Day Free meals. The drive was unusually long for us: We all met in Westland (about 30 miles of travel) and as a group, drove in separate cars to Commerce Township, about 30 miles further to get to our destination: Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant.
Pulling into the parking lot of Carino’s I thought there would be limited parking and long lines to get seated. After all this was dinnertime. I was wrong on both accounts. The parking lot was empty and dark (thank you daylight savings time) and inside, no wait at the hostess station. We were led into a semi private room with a view of the parking lot and the opposite wall, made of stone was a cutout to view of rest of the restaurant. The walls were decorated with paintings of yellow and grey bicycle parts – kind of strange. I was told this was the décor for Country Italian.
Our reserved table(s) (reserved in advance for a party of ten) wasn’t one long table, it was four or five tables put together, with seating for 20. There are no tablecloths, everything is wood. We all fit around the table nicely, warm and cozy.
The first waitress to appear gave us menus; left 3 baskets with a small Italian loaf in each accompanied by dipping dishes of olive oil and roasted garlic. So far so good.
Drink orders next. The wait staff raved about a drink called Bellini, a concoction of frozen peach nectar, white wine, champagne and rum swirled with Italian Sangria. The table ordered three, oh but they were sorry they were out of the ingredients to make it. I ordered California Chardonnay the waitress asked if I wanted house, I said no, the Californian, and after a few seconds, she ask again, if I want house wine, followed by “are you sure” – I did get my way 🙂
Our waitress had a broken arm/ wrist, which was obviously weaker than her other arm, as she had to switch her serving hand each time she attempted to pick up anything, but she did it with a smile. The drinks ordered included Italian Soda, frozen Italian Margarita, Amalfi Strawberry Lemonade and the most flavor able drink I ‘ve ever tasted; Italian Sangria.
We were all hungry; we were there at least 40 minutes after we got our drinks before they took our food orders. (In all fairness we were waiting for two other people) The menu has several interesting dishes. http://www.carinos.com/menu – the free dinners were listed under the classics (but the “real restaurant menu” has more selections for the Veterans)
So What to eat? Some of the orders included:
Homemade 16-Layer Lasagna, 2 Chicken Milano, 2 Angel Hair with Artichokes and Shrimp, Chicken Scaloppini – I never heard of Chicken Scaloppini. Someone had a plate of mostly green sauce which may have been Chicken Pesto Ravioli, but that’s just a guess. And a couple of other dishes. Grated cheese was offered for all.
Prior to dinner, several people opted for a Caesar salad. Someone ordered Italian Nachos. (Crispy pasta chips, black olives, pepperoncinis, roma tomatoes, jalapeños, alfredo sauce, mozzarella and parmesan: choice of Chicken, Sausage or both) I had a small bowl of Minestrone, which was excellent. The Italian Wedge, a takeoff of the Wedge salad, was enormous, and that was her prelude to her dinner. The wedge was an iceberg lettuce wedge topped with applewood smoked bacon, candied pecans, gorgonzola, roma tomatoes and apple slices. Served with roasted garlic ranch. She said it was great, cold, not wet or runny, just right. And the apples added a good flavor.
Dinner arrived! My angle hair was hot, the artichokes were tasty, black olives were sliced, but the entire dish was very salty and the pasta had no flavor.
The shrimp, good sized and deveined, had a semi-opaque appearance, somewhere between clear and white translucent and they were a bit fishy. With shrimp doneness is usually preference, but the fishy taste…that could be caused by old shrimp or the type of shrimp they used. Not sure which. I ate all the artichokes, and left the rest.
My husband, who never heard of chicken Scaloppini, told me the chicken was kind of tough and salty. The comment from the lasagna dish: it was okay but said that his homemade was much better. I suspect because the appetizers were so big, everyone was full by the time dinner arrived: no one was very hungry. There were a lot of Styrofoam boxes going home that night.
Desert? Everyone passed it up except us, we ordered Tiramisu: we were served the biggest piece of Tiramisu I ever encountered on a one plate dessert. It was cold, creamy and hard to stop eating. Very good.
The manager of the evening stopped by the table to thank us for coming in. He told us this was the first time they tried a free Veterans dinner and invited us back next year. He missed the opportunity to invite us back anytime (and coupon wouldn’t hurt). Oh well. We waited about 15 minutes for our checks and it seemed just as long for our change.
(And this is a chain restaurant which I didn’t know until I read their website)
Good Drinks, excellent appetizers, big desserts but questionable entrees. They may have had an off night: we might be back for a second try. Reasonable prices, actually great prices considering the size of the portions.
For a biker, friendly, good stop off the busy freeway, plenty of parking and if you don’t want to ride, they cater.
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