“This is why I don’t come here anymore.”
The woman was harrumphing herself out of her booth just as I was passing to sit in the one next to it. As near as I could tell, she was unhappy about something concerning her order and even unhappier about having to get up to find her server so she could complain to him.
This was at the generically named Italian House Pizza & Restaurant on South Crystal Lake Drive in the Curry Ford West District. I was tempted to point out to the woman that she apparently does still “come here,” but I let it go. Eventually, I, too, would learn that service here wasn’t exactly trained and professional. “I’m a really lousy waiter,” my server would say at one point in the meal. And I would also have to get up at one point to hunt him down.
(And by the way, the photo above was taken at the same time as the photo at the top, at the end of the meal as the check was presented, so it wasn’t as if the server was too busy to clear the plates.”
I would like to say that the food and ambience totally make up for the server shortcomings, but that’s not the case. The decor is a bit worn and the food rarely rises above average. But it is all quite serviceable. This is the sort of place you turn to if you live within a few blocks and you just can’t work up the energy to cook dinner yourself.
My dinner companions and I started with appetizers of meatballs in marinara sauce and fried mozzarella planks. The meatballs get the nod here, nicely dense orbs in a passable red sauce.
I rather liked the eggplant rollatini that one of my guests ordered. The eggplant, sliced lengthwise, battered, fried and then baked until the mozzarella cheese on top turned crusty, was filled with spinach and ricotta cheese and accompanied by spaghetti with more of that marinara on top.
I wouldn’t expect the pizzas to win any awards – the crust is a bit too thick and chewy. But the toppings, especially on the House Meat Pie, were generous, with lots of pepperoni, ground beef, sausage, bacon, ham and mozzarella.
A Margherita pizza was, appropriately, less heavy on the toppings, with cheese, garlic and tomatoes on the sauceless pie.
Originally a Pizza Hut, the building was home to a very nice neighborhood restaurant called Cherazi’s, which opened around 2000 and I reviewed, quite favorably, in 2001. In 2004 it became Italian Pie and Pasta House. I’m not sure when the name morphed to its current iteration. (The website boasts that it has been “serving Orlando since 1989,” but that’s clearly not the case.)
But it does seem to have staying power and a certain loyal fanbase, the woman who doesn’t go there anymore notwithstanding.
Italian House Pizza & Restaurant is at 1400 S. Crystal Lake Drive, Orlando (map). It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-895-0505.