Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Southeast >
May 24, 2012 01:25 PM

Good but affordable itallian in charlotte?

East side possible.if not...that is fine.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Vapiano, Uptown, is very good and reasonable. Its also very casual, almost cafeteria like, in a way. But the food is very good.

    3 Replies
      1. re: carolinadawg

        I agree with dawg, wasn't amazing, but definitely good, fun atmosphere, and if what I've seen rumored, it's a German-based chain?

        1. re: Nocturnalbill

          Yes its a European chain but shockingly good for what you would assume is a crappy chain cafeteria. I'd take their pizza over most if not all others downtown. And their pasta is good, they use fresh ingredients and I think they make the pasta fresh in house (although I don't know that for a fact).

      2. Have you tried Portofino's yet? I like their linguini with clams and I love their house salad dressing. They also make a decent pizza. They have two locations: Eastway @ Central and Park Road @ Selwyn

        2 Replies
        1. re: hazardnc

          Never tried anything but their pizza and eggolant parm sub...both were wonderful

          1. re: hazardnc

            Their linguini with clams is great. 3 locations by the way, one down at Ayrsley.

            Is Zio still around? I used to like it when I lived nearby. Very "neighborhoody" and casual. It was my go-to for a while.

          2. I'm in East Charlotte and I am thankful to have Angela's on my side of town. It's on Margaret Wallace, not far off of Independence. Their Penne a la vodka is wonderful, and any of their baked dishes are great - the ricotta is creamy and their marinara is wonderful. The have live music on the weekends and a nice little patio area. Not too expensive and I always end up w/ leftovers.

            22 Replies
            1. re: littlegirltree

              Wow, I forgot about Angela's. Definitely gets the east side vote.

              1. re: billyjack

                Try Portofino's on Eastway, order the boscaiola with penne, you will absolutely love it. It's a wonderful dish, and very reasonable.

                1. re: picklelicious

                  Once more showing my Southern naivety I have no idea what that is or even how to pronounce to enlighten?

                  1. re: billyjack

                    billyjack, try this, say: Bow-sky-yo-la.
                    The word for forest in Italian is Bosco. This is where the name of this sauce comes from : Boscaiola.
                    Not sure of the version picklelicious is speaking of but the one I know is, red sauce with items found in the forest, ie mushrooms and such.
                    I've seen menus with this dish Boscaiola sauce on it and they might even prepare it similar to an alfredo or carbonara. While the taste might still be good, it's not the one I'm familiar with for sure.
                    Hope you're "enlighted" ;)

                    1. re: Ciao Italia Foodie

                      Thanks! I'm always out to expand my food knowledge.

                      1. re: billyjack

                        This is not a traditional attempt at the dish, it's more like a pile of proscuitt rendered and then a good vodka type sauce creation, with some peas added at the end. Not traditional, but DAMN strong plate of food!!!

              2. re: littlegirltree

                @littlegirtree I'm not in East Charlotte but enthusiastically drive to the "East Side" (Angela's) for the best Italian and pizza offered.

                I'll add, I'm just thankful PERIOD to have Angela's here in Charlotte. We've tried others following the hype and in my opinion always return here for what we consider and recommend, the best Italian in Charlotte.
                (even started a thread here on the HOUND to recommend them a long while back and it's obvious consistency is a striong point in thier business plan, as I'm still here highly recommending them)
                Btw, was there last night enjoying the patio, wonderful dinner and a special house made limoncello cannoli for dessert (no live entertainment)

                1. re: Ciao Italia Foodie

                  Wow, I have never heard of Angela's. I don't recall your old thread about it either. How have I missed this? To be fair, I swore off red sauce Italian in Charlotte because nothing has ever compared to back home, but I may just have to break my rule and give this joint a try. I'd love to find a place here in town that compares to back home.

                  note: I try very hard not to be one of those yankees that compares everything to "back home". But when it comes to red sauce Italian, I'm simply stuck "back home". Forgive me please, y'all, I mean no disrespect. :)

                  Here is a link to CIF's original post:

                  1. re: lynnlato

                    I'll speak for my fellow natives and forgive you. I didn't know what a "red sauce" place was until probably a few years ago. Most of the "Italian" places here were Greek-owned, Luisa's being the exception - I think she was the first native Italian to open a restaurant here and that was only in the 80's I think!

                    That being said, what I now know of "back-home red sauce restaurants", Angela's is probably the best.

                    1. re: billyjack

                      Thanks for the slide, billyjack. If anyone is interested in joining us, a few of us 'hounds are headed there for lunch this Friday. I checked out their menu and it looks like I'll need to do some extra cardio that morning to account for the carb-loading I'll be doing at Angela's for lunch. ;-)

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        OHHH enjoy!
                        We are going to try and make it Saturday night for some live entertainment. If you ever get a chance to go for dinner their "Sinatra" singer is a perfect match for the place, sets the ambience off just right.
                        I dunno, something about Ol' Blue Eyes and some delicious Italian food that gets me going.
                        And I'll add, if you want to indulge in carbs with out the calories, look up their facebook page for food photos.
                        It's sure to WIDEN your eyes and not your waist. In my opinion the actual dishes taste as good as they look. .

                        1. re: Ciao Italia Foodie

                          We had a great lunch, and I can say that it was probably some of the best red sauce eats I've had in the Queen City in the 16 yrs that I've been here. I debated between ordering the Vitello Francese and the Cheese Ravioli. I opted for the cheese ravs since it a better dish to judge the place on. All entrees on the menu have a choice between a lunch or dinner portion - love that. I got the lunch portion which was 4 ravs in red sauce. Except for being a little over-sauced, I enjoyed them. Simple ricotta filling, tender pasta and a bright tomato sauce that wasn't too garlicky. The place is inviting, clean and the service was great. Our server kept our drinks full and was very attentive. The location is the one downfall for me. It's in the middle of nowhere. Out Margaret Wallace Rd. a few miles from Independence.

                          Our group got a couple of pizzas too and they really enjoyed them as well. I didn't try the pizza. I'm Southeritalian will post about her meal - I know she enjoyed it very much.

                          Funny, we talked about how many of the Charlotte red sauce restos are run by Greeks who tend to put nutmeg in their sauce - bleck! Nobody in the group is a fan of that. Why do they do it? Anyone know?

                          Ciao Italia Foodie - I've learned to turn it down over the years as well. I think admitting we are aware of that annoying habit - hopefully will buy us some tolerance and love. ;-)

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            Sorry I missed a good lunch.

                            RE the nutmeg thing- as you and I noted, a lot of the "Italian" restaurants were/are owned by Greeks, and that goes back to the 40's (I think) when Charlotte had a huge influx of Greek immigration. I'm guessing somebody in one of those first restaurants put nutmeg in their tomato sauce either because they liked it or it was their tradition or whatever. And it probably got passed on because a lot of the restaurants that were opened after that were opened by former cooks of those earlier Greek-owned establishments. And it went on from there. At least that's my theory. I can tell you that to me its a fairly normal taste, although I do recognize it as "different".

                            As to the "back home" mentality, in all honesty if I were living somewhere else you can bet I'd complain about the lousy "Southern" food on offer :)

                            1. re: billyjack

                              I wonder if it's a weird variation of Cincinnati chili (invented by Greeks) which is thin, served over spaghetti and also contains nutmeg!

                              1. re: HungryDonkey

                       may have a point on that!!
                                I also noticed cinnamon in the cincy c hilli...not a fave if mine at allll!

                                1. re: HungryDonkey

                                  Yeah, go figure I like the Greek red sauce here but I always thought Cincinnati chili was gross....

                                2. re: billyjack

                                  I used to work in a pseudo-Italian restaurant in northern NJ owned by Greeks. That's where I first noticed the overwhelming cinnamon, nutmeg flavor to the red sauce. I asked the chef once why he added it and he told me to shut the $%#@ up so I let it go.

                                  I loved Angela's. I brought home a pizza for my husband and he liked it so much, we went back for dinner over the weekend. Great food, great music, great service, bizarre location.

                                  1. re: southernitalian

                                    I also aunts 1st husband.or 3rd lol..was from Italy
                                    His mother made manicotti one day and i saw her put cinnamon into rhe red sauce/ gravy and said shhhhh it was a secret...very tiny amount but boy was it yummy
                                    i was 6 at the time ...sooo idk

                                    1. re: southernitalian

                                      southernitalian , sounds like my tip on Angela's was a hit. That's a restaurant easy for me to recommend.
                                      I agree, great food, great music, great service......... bizarre location? The word bizarre never came to mind.

                                      Now I would say, off the beaten path, less travled, strip mall, less desirable; when you would think of finding quality italian. But as a "Hound" I'm surprised that you used the word bizarre for the location.
                                      When I think bizzare I'd be quicker to pair that word with a restaurant that just recently closed, called Stone Table in Monroe. The food was good - it was just sort of wierd location and "ambience"

                                      I'm greatful I found Angela's here in Charlotte. I don't care where the brick and mortar is located.
                                      I would say bizarre that I found the best Italian restaurant in Charlotte on that side of town, I guess.
                                      Eveyone looks for that type of accolade Uptown or South Charlotte. Wrong. Factor in their prices - unbeatable (so is the SAUCE)

                                      Went with a group last night and they had a nice dinner crowd (especially considering it is restaurant week).
                                      I will say that shopping center has no life in it and noticed the snap fitness has also moved out leaving another empty storefront.

                                      Imho that confirms, if Angela's had been anything less then "the best " they would have been out of there a long time ago. I think they have been there for 6 years.
                                      The way I see it, people are only going there to that location - because they know it's where to find "the good stuff". There is no other reason. period.

                                      Had a great dinner last night ("the good stuff") and finished off with an amazing homemade cannoli cupcake!

                                      1. re: Ciao Italia Foodie

                                        Simply meant "bizarre" in that it seems to do so well in a location that's not convenient to a lot of people.

                                        1. re: Ciao Italia Foodie

                                          What is a cannoli cupcake?

                                          FTR, I too think it is in a "bizarre location". It's just kind of in the middle of nowhere and on a side of town that doesn't typically serve up red sauce Italian. No big whup. I'm fairly certain SI didn't mean anything ugly. But, to be clear, the restaurant itself is lovely inside and out... and the food is great.

                            2. re: lynnlato

                              @ lynnlato Hey, when it comes to Italian and pizza, I (101%) flip on my "compare everything to back home yankee" switch.
                              But It's not only back home (NJ) I'm comparing to. I've eaten a nice amount of Italian and pizza over my years (family, friends and restaurants)

                              Go ahead and judge me for it if you must.
                              If it helps you judge me less, I DO know how to turn the switch DOWN.
                              But yeah, I'm one of those too, who "try very hard not to compare everything to back home"
                              Thanks for the link to my original post.