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May 24, 2008 02:35 PM

Need some new restaurants in Charlotte

I'm in need of a few new restaurants to put into our repetoire.

I need too different ones. One fancy with "gourmet" type. We used to frequent Volare and really loved it. Sadly it is gone. We like Toscana. We went a long time ago to Luce and liked it but for whatever reason have not been back. Been to Villa Antonio on South (not the one in Ballyntine) -- good but overpriced and to showy or something, can't put my finger on it. Second need is a good "homey" italian restaurant, the kind with good lasagna, pork chops in red sauce (yum one of our favorite places back home in MA had the greatest), spaghetti and meat sauce or sausages (comfort food), chicken cachatori (sp?) -- just basic family food. The kind of place where the two of us could get out for $40/$60 with a little wine. (southernitalian -- any ideas?) Have heard Fankies is good?

Someplace for broiled fish that won't break the bank. Like Oceanaire, LaVechia, Upstream, but looking for something good under these prices. Bonefish is pretty good. Maybe something like that?

They all seem to taste the same. We do like Boading and Wan Fu. Any new suggestions that maybe a little more to the north Charlotte area? We have tried PF Changs, I like it more than my wife.

We go to one in Mooresville that is good. There is one in University that is pretty good. Anything new to try. Sorry the names escape me on these.

Just good basic food -- sandwiches, burgers, chicken, meatloaf, etc:
Like Big Daddy's burger bar and Katz (thank you to the Godfather), want to try Pio Pio for the chicken based on his recommend. Like Macs. Like the Coffee Cup. Like Merts. Like Prices. Anymore suggestions?

With gas, and seemingly every other necessity going thru the roof, I would like to add some more moderate priced restaurants to our frequent list. Any help from fellow Charlotte hounds is appreciated. We live in Huntersville so northern Charlotte area is a plus, but NOT a necessity. A good meal is worth a bit of a drive even at $4 a gallon.

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  1. For some good old school Italian food try Fontanella Italiano Ristorante
    10412 E Independence Blvd. Its in the Matthews Festival shopping center.
    Fontanella serves homey Italian food most of it in red sauce and alot of it with cheese melted on top. Nothing gourmet just good homey eats. I think it is just what you are looking for. For what it's worth I once went to Frankie's
    in my opinion the music was great the food was not at all like the music.

    7 Replies
    1. re: GodfatherofLunch

      How did I know you would be here to help!

      1. re: artlee

        Any time. For gourmet Italian - I love Fiamma, it is my favorite place. Everything is superb.

        1. re: GodfatherofLunch

          Just got back from Pio Pio and I agree. Excellent food, very nice people, a regular on our list now. Thanks for the tip. Now I'll move on to your Italian places. Thanks again.

      2. re: GodfatherofLunch

        GFL is right of course. Frankie's has some stuff but it's really not really Italian. It's an homage to Frank Sinatra so it's more Hoboken than Italian. Fiamma (Italian for "hungry") is probably closest to what you're looking for but don't rule out Portofino. It's not "fancy" but they really do a good job with mussels, pasta and pizza. I've only been to the Park Road location.

        Although it's a chain and I really try to support the local guys (as long as they're good) I really have become a fan of Oceanaire. Cilantro cole slaw? Yum! Their oysters are phenomenal.

        Can't help with Chinese because I've really never been a big fan but for Thai there is absolutely nothing like Monsoon on South Blvd. in Sedgefield across from the Pepsi plant. Outrageously good. I also love Thai Taste on East Blvd.

        I'm a regular at Katz' but I live very close to it. Not sure I'd drive down from Huntersville for it. I'm really only vaguely familiar with anything north of the University area. Have you been to the Penguin? Alexander Michaels? Lulu? I'd definitely give them a shot.The first two mostly for atmosphere and the last for the food.

        1. re: southernitalian

          True I don't speak I Italian, but I do eat it fluently. Fiamma is Italian for flame or fire not hungry. I agree Portofino is a good everyday Italian choice.

        2. re: GodfatherofLunch

          I tried Fontanella's for lunch buffet a few weeks back when my car was being serviced - it was fantastic!! Wish it were closer.

          1. re: ap1994

            glad you enjoyed it. Can't help with getting them closer. The buffet is fantastic and is a really great value.

        3. For Italian, Fiamma is hands down the best in Charlotte, and visitors from New York and Philly have said that it's as good as any Italian restaurant in those places.

          For fish, you could do Hotel Charlotte. Of course Cabo Fish Taco also.

          For Chinese, if you want authentic you can go to Dim Sum. Also 88 China Bistro has a good authentic Chinese menu-- you just have to ask for it. The vegetable-stuffed flounder and the duck are fantastic.

          For Thai food, actually switch it up and try Vietnamese. The Vietnamese restaurants in Charlotte totally outshine the Thai restaurants. Lang Van is very good and is a local favorite, and Ben Tanh (sp?) is also good.

          For basic food, I think southernitalian threw in a lot of good suggestions. Also, give Dish a try.

          12 Replies
          1. re: ickymettle

            icky, how does Vietnamese vary from Chinese or Thai? I have never had it before.

            Thanks to all so far. Seems like Fiamma is a must try.

            1. re: artlee

              Vietnamese has a very wide variety of dishes. Some are similar to Thai dishes and some are quite different. I've found Vietnamese food to be a little more flavorful than Thai food. It's generally much lighter than Chinese food. Some of my favorite Vietnamese dishes are the vermicelli, usually topped with various vegetables (bean sprouts, cucumbers, etc.) and mint, along with pork, chicken and/or shrimp; mi xao don, which is crispy egg noodle topped with shrimp, squid, beef, pork, chicken, broccoli, etc.; the yellow pancake, which is stuffed with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts; and the crispy quail. Most of the good Vietnamese places here serve their food very fresh, usually with vegetables grown fresh in their own gardens.

                1. re: artlee

                  Oh yeah, the summer rolls are great, too.

                  1. re: artlee

                    Vietnamese food is wonderful. Vietnam was occupied by the French for some time and the food shows it. Think of chinese with a french touch. I recommend you try a dish called Pho. A clear beef broth with lots of noodles, you choice of beef cut and garnishes served on the side such as basil,chili,lime etc. I enjoy Pho Hoa on Central Ave. It is next door to Dim Sum, perhaps Charlotte most authentic Chinese restaurant and an excellent Asian market.
                    Here is a link for Pho Hoa
                    They are a nationwide chain

                    1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                      Thanks Godfather. Say, have you tried anything besides the chicken at Pio Pio. I may have to try the pork chops. By the way, we were the only ones there Saturday night.

                      1. re: artlee

                        I have tried the pork chops once. I was not thrilled, it was a pork chop not pork chops and it was just OK. The chicken is hard to beat. I had a whole red snapper no Friday night and I enjoyed that very much. I am going to head over there in a little while with Mrs. G. and it will be winner winner chicken dinner for me!!

                          1. re: artlee

                            Sure, had breakfast there just this morning. :-)
                            Lunch at - Crisp- 7th Street and Pecan. Great salad & sandwich place.
                            Had a great steak salad. I loved it.

                            1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                              GFL-- I had lunch at Crisp yesterday as well. Great minds think alike.

              1. re: ickymettle

                Unfortunately, I think most of us are unfamiliar w/ good chow in the University area. Atleast I haven't read much about that area of town.

                I second the recs for Cabo Fish Taco, Lulu's, Dish, The Penguin.

                If you haven't yet been, I would suggest Cuisine Malaya. It's in the Elizabeth neighborhood so it isn't too far and they've got great curries, noodles, sushi, etc. Many dishes are very similiar to Thai food (speaking of, I'm a big fan of Bangkok Ocha on Hwy 51 in Carmel Commons Shopping Ctr).

                I visited the Portofino in Gastonia and wasn't impressed. The pizza looked good but the chicken dishes we ordered were dry and bland. Maybe it's just this location. 'Course I steer clear of mom & pop Italian down here. I'm biased towards how they do it back home in PA so I usually don't even try it here.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  There are a couple decent (emphasis on decent, not great) places in University, but they do get lost in the "sea of crap" that makes up most of the area.

                  A couple places to try if you are in the area:

                  Due Amici (awesome pizza)
                  Down to the Bone
                  Thai House
                  Chaat n' Chai

                  Not technically in University, but Asian Corners on Tryon is close. They have the best little Bahn Mi shop in there... Le's Cafe

              2. My hood is South Park, so these might be a little far, but if you are around here, it might not be too bad.
                For Italian, Zio off of Providence Road near the Manor Theatre, turn at the Boston Market. Great little family place.
                Phat Burrito off of East Blvd- great little spot for inexpensive and support local business, (all these are local businesses)

                Cafe Monte just opened up behind the Hampton Inn at Phillips Place, not in Phillips Place, the spaces behind it where Red Sky gallery used to be. Monte is better for breakfast, I found lunch and dinner average.

                1 Reply
                1. re: waitress

                  Today I ate lunch at Kabob Grill, there is one on East Blvd, but this is the new one at Stonecrest, YUMMY

                2. Today I ate lunch at the new Kabob Grill at Stonecrest, there is also one on East Blvd. My vegetarian plate was fresh and delicious.

                    1. re: waitress

                      I was hoping someone would try the Kabob Grill @ Stonecrest soon & post. Thanks for being the guinea pig! I have been curious and concerned. That location hasn't been successful. Not to mention we have a lot of finicky eaters down here in Ballantyne. I hope Kabob Grill will change the bad karma there & will thrive... and I will have to get in there soon.

                      I assume the pics you posted of the rigatoni, pizza, burrito and crepes weren't from Kabob Grill. Let me guess - pizza & rigatoni from Zio?? Burrito from Phat Burrito and crepes from Cafe Monte?

                      Man, I'm good. (JK)

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        Whoever came up with the idea to open something called Kabob Grill at Stonecrest is a very brave person indeed. Where exactly is it?

                        1. re: southernitalian

                          Agreed SI. It's in b/t Jersey Mike's and the pottery place (Dish It Out). Before it was a hot dog place, ice cream joint, coffee place I think. I hope they do well b/c lord knows we need some diversity down here!

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            It's a second location to the Kabob Grill on East Blvd. GREAT food at that location, haven't been to the new location yet. Two cousins have the place I believe...very nice guys and, at least at the East Blvd location, belly dancer on Friday nights....

                          2. re: southernitalian

                            How very sad that grilled hunks of meat on a stick are considered exotic in
                            Stepford (South Charlotte). By the way Kabob grill is excellent, try the Kibbe- ground lamb,pignoli nuts and spices. Very tasty treat indeed.!!!!!!!
                            ChowHounds like you and Lynn must help the blind to see.

                            1. re: waitress

                              wow, I go away for a few days and get lots of ideas. Thanks!