The hubby and I had an errand to run in Decatur so we took the opportunity to visit Alfonso's, which had been dropped in the Suggestion Box. We arrived in the quiet lull between the late lunches and the early dinners.
We were promptly greeted by the hostess and told to seat ourselves. We selected one of the dark booths and I smiled at the purple walls. A chalkboard by the entrance told of beer, sangria, and happy hour but we were more focused on our menus. Subs, pizza, salads, pasta... classic Italian staples.
After much debate I split the difference between pizza and pasta by ordering that day's special--a half order of spaghetti with meat sauce--and a 10" cheesy pie appetizer to share. The hubby settled on a chicken fettuccine dinner which came with a salad and bread.
We settled in with our drinks, soaking up the lazy Saturday sunshine and the quiet basketball game playing on a TV in the corner.
The hubby's salad came up first, his blue cheese dressing occupying it's own little container on the side of a generous dish.
The salad was fairly standard--iceburg lettuce, slices of purple onion, toasted croutons--but I was happy to see grape tomatoes instead of insipid tomato slices. My husband reported the ingredients were fresh and pronounced the salad as "fair".
As he ate his salad, I examined the basket of crackers on the table, somewhat bemused to find they were Lance's "Captain Wafers", a sort of cracker/cookie hybrid, instead of the more common saltines.
I was quickly distracted from this task, however, because the cheesy bread arrived. That sounds very matter of fact, and in truth it was set down simply, but if there was any justice in life there would have been some sort of razzle dazzle lighting or at least a musical flourish.
The pie itself featured a "thick" crust, one that was relatively thin but fluffy, chewy, and just barely crunchy on the bottom. The crust had an almost biscuit-y or pastry sense to it, slightly dry but not crumbly. A sprinkling of black and white spices colored the bottom of the crust. Butter filled in for pizza sauce and the cheese was piled on, thick and gooey. Eaten alone, it was almost decadent. However, it also paired beautifully with the accompanying marinara dipping sauce. Created on a tomato paste base, the sweet sauce featured chunks of tomatoes.
As we marveled over the cheesy wonder bread, our entrees came out.
My spaghetti (shown at the top of the post) won my admiration with my first bite. It wasn't the just-right al dente pasta, it was the fact that the meat sauce on my pasta was a distinctly different sauce from the dipping sauce served with the cheesy bread. That sounds obvious, but in many cases "red sauce" becomes a catch all for any tomato sauce and it is used liberally anywhere it could possibly be employed.
Not so here. This sauce was thinner and more acidic. Instead of dippable tomato chunks, there were small tomato seeds and small flecks of seasoning. The meat in the sauce was small pieces of meatballs. I could not discern what else had been added to the meat but the flavor was moderated away from the heavy, often greasy, tells of ground beef towards a lighter, fluffier flavor suggesting bread crumbs.
The hubby enjoyed his dish.
The chicken was firm, the fettucinie good, and the alfredo a "standard cream sauce but not too salty". He appreciated the melty mozarella topping which made the dish a little different from how it is often served.
The toast served with our entrees was plentiful, Texas toast style white bread. Spongey soft, it was lightly buttered and toasted on one side. I was a bit surprised to find what is essentially glorified white bread at an Italian spot, but it was at least tasty glorified white bread.
Overall, our experience was lovely. I always enjoy dining in those relaxed hours between common meal times, but this meal was made even better with friendly service, perfect pacing, and prompt drink refills. Alfonso's doesn't offer high end Italian, but for classic dishes, fresh ingredients, and generous portions they are a delight. As an added bonus, their small arcade room featuring gumball machines and The Claw took me back to pizza parties in elementary school.
Total for the meal: $27.40 (Included one order of cheesy bread, one lunch special, one lunch entree, and two drinks)
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