My Warm-Weather Pizza Pick: Napolese

I have to admit, I have a love/hate relationship with the Patachou chain.  I hate the brusque service I almost invariably receive, the jarring proximity to other diners, and the inevitable volume of that proximity, which makes conversation difficult at best.  Normally dining for me needs to be a full experience, but I let it slide in the case of the Patachou restaurants because their food is just so darn tasty.  Napolese is no exception, and I keep going despite the long waits, loud dining room, and tepid service because it is the only place in Indianapolis where I know I can get that thin, yeasty, blistery pizza crust. IMG_0446

On my most recent visit, I had a quartino of Tienfenbrunner Pinot Bianco.  I loved the apple and citrus notes and crisp finish.  Napolese has a short but varied wine list which has never disappointed me.  This will not be the first time I’ve hunted down a bottle of something I drank there, and the list is priced to be drunk with pizza, albeit high-end pizza.  IMG_0445

My favorite starter is the baked goat cheese in a crock of tomato sauce.  It is served with slices of the pizza crust and reminds me exactly of the baked goat cheese everyone loves at Barcelona Tapas.  I realize that eating this dish right before I eat pizza is incredibly redundant, and I do not care one bit.  I dare you to try either this starter or the pizza and not order one the next time you visit.

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The pie list at Napolese is long and interesting and includes such things as quail eggs and artichoke hearts and locally made Fleur de Terre.  I have SEEN these pizzas on other diners’ tables and they look great.  However, the first time I came to Napolese I ordered a classic Margherita, and I have never been able to order anything else.  I do not apologize.

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Just look at it.  Now, go eat one. 

Tips:  If you live anywhere close, I’d highly advise getting your pizza to go, due to the tepid waitstaff and crowded dining area.  Please note that I hate criticizing AN ENTIRE CHAIN of restaurants based on bad service, but ambivalent servers seem to be something of a corporate policy with this empire.  I’ve probably visited 25 times and gotten a smile twice.

On the upside, because Napolese is in the Patachou family, you can order Patachou’s tomato artichoke soup there.  Honestly, the servers could probably beat me and I’d still go for this soup, and if I ever find out how to make it they’ll lose my brunch business forever.  995714_10153020441125434_1417688848_n

I have found that the best way to reheat leftover pizza from Napolese is to get a stone or pan to at least 400 degrees in the oven and THEN put the leftovers on the pan.  It crisps the bottom without overcooking the top and only takes a few minutes since the pizza is so thin.

http://Napolese on Urbanspoon

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Vroom, Vroom, Coffee

Today is a beautiful day.  Sunny, breezy, all the trees springing into bloom.  But I really need to be studying and I really need to be drinking coffee.  Days like today are Lino’s days.Photo May 07, 2 02 14 PMPhoto May 07, 2 02 11 PM

 Lino’s Coffee is unlike any coffee shop I have ever been in.  It is housed in the Dallara factory, an Indycar chassis manufacturer on Speedway’s Main Street.  The company is based in Italy and, from what I understand, thought their Indianapolis plant deserved fine Italian coffee.  In fact, this is the first Lino’s location to be opened in the United States.  It has been in business almost exactly a year and I love love love it.

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Even if the coffee were just ok, I would love being inside Lino’s.  The café part of the factory boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and has a clean, modern industrial feel.  On days where I have to be inside but really would rather be sitting in the sunshine, this is my place.  Plus, the whole place smells a little like rascar, which in my book is basically an aphrodisiac.

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Happily, the coffee is considerably more than ok.  It is spectacular.  It is unlike anything I have ever had in the US.  Beans are imported from Brazil, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Guatemala, Jamaica, Santa Domingo, Hawai and roasted in Parma, then shipped to Indianapolis where they are brewed into an extensive and seductive array of drinkable magic.

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My favorite, the Marocco, has layers of chocolate syrup, espresso, and steamed milk.

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My other favorite, the Ciocchino (which I order in a hazelnut variety but can be made with many flavors) has layers of hazelnut cream, espresso, foamed milk, whipped cream, and hazelnut syrup.  The cappuccino and straight espresso are divine as well.

If you are a coffee lover, or, like myself, a lover of tableware, there is always something a bit disappointing about going to starbucks and guzzling 16 ounces of coffee out of a paper cup through a tiny hole in the plastic lid.  Call me crazy, but it’s just not the same as a nice hefty mug for your café au lait or a dainty perfect demitasse for your espresso.  Lino’s is not just about the coffee, it’s about the experience.

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Did I mention Lino’s also serves food?  Pizza, salads, gelato, just about anything you could want.  I’ve sampled the bruschetta, and it was fine, but not nearly as delicious as the pizza at the next table over smelled.  Photo Apr 25, 2 31 23 PMThey serve beer and wine and an array of breakfast sandwiches.  You can buy prosciutto and baguettes to take home with you.  Someday I’d like to try everything Lino’s offers, but right now I can’t spare any stomach space.  I’m saving it all for that coffee.

http://Lino’s Coffee on Urbanspoon