While driving through the un-salted snow covered interstates (I-85 and I-77), all I could think about was a piping hot Italian meal. Pasta, meats, succulent sauces, and LOTS of melted cheese. I then remembered a lunch I had a few weeks ago that I didn't review. So, since I can't head out for lunch today -- I'll review Open Kitchen now.
Open Kitchen is arguably the oldest restaurant in Charlotte. Since 1952, this place has been serving up heaping plates of pasta from the same building to generations of customers. In fact, the friend whom I met for lunch, had his prom dinner there.
Upon entering I immediately got the feeling that this place was family owned and operated. The generic stale feeling that you get from the Italian chain restaurants, just wasn't there. On the walls, and ceiling you'll see photos, and newspaper articles from those celebrities who have visited (if I recall correctly, Burt Reynolds was just one of the many celebrities who have been there). The tables have the mandatory red-checkered table cloth, and photos and nick-knacks line the walls. This place screams Italian restaurant. And it reminded me of my favorite Italian restaurant, Lanza's at Lake Tahoe.
Once we sat down, we were greeted by a friendly waitress, who quickly took our order. After I ordered the Veal Parmigiana, he shook his head and said, "you should have ordered what I'm having." He was right.
My Veal Parmigiana came in a deep, hot dish and covered with sauce and melted cheese. The meat was OK, but had a processed feel to it. In addition, it was the first veal parmigiana that I'd had that wasn't breaded and fried. My meal was good, but only average.
By my friend ordered the Veal Juliano -- it looked and smelled amazing. The veal was layered with provolone, then breaded and fried. Then served with a mushroom wine sauce. Though I don't like mushrooms, he was correct, I should have ordered his.
Though I wasn't happy with my meal, I think I just ordered the wrong thing. They have an extensive menu, and I'm sure that one of their pasta dishes would be just the thing to warm me up on a cold and snowy day.
Atmosphere: 3/5 (casual / family feel)
Price: $$ (Many entrees just over $10)
Conclusion: This casual Italian restaurant has a real family feel to it. From the packed parking lot during lunch, I get the feeling that most meals there are better than the one I had. I'll be heading back to try another dish, then I'll pass my final verdict.
1318 W. Morehead Street
Charlotte, NC 28208