Lucca Grill: Established in 1936
While staying in Bloomington, Illinois, we were interested in a great place to eat. We asked about three different people, including the people at our hotel, and they all agreed that the best place in town was Lucca Grill for Pizza and other Italian American Food.
The background information about this 70+ establishment is worth noting. It was established in 1936 by brothers Fred and John Baldini who named it in honor of their hometown of Lucca, Italy.
Lucca, Italy was a favorite place of ours in Italy. We stayed there for six days.
It has always been run by members of the Baldini family and has kept its warm and wonderful ambience. We opted to stay downstairs in the bar area, but the dining room is on the second floor.
The menu consists of Antipasto such as Spinach Artichoke Dip, Fried Ravioli, Buffalo Wings, and Hot bread Sticks [to name a few.
Also on the menu, you will find Insalata [salads] such as Lucca's Chicken Salad [chilled greens, breaded chicken, toasted almonds, and crunch fried spaghetti!]. We ordered Side Salads made of greens, carrots, red cabbage garnished with cucumber and a tomato wedge.
Next, you will find Tramezzini [Sandwiches that are served with potato chips. Some of their sandwiches were Italian Beef or Sausage, Burgers, "The Louis" [roast beef with grilled onions and green peppers, topped with Swiss cheese], Smoked Turkey Breast, Grilled Ham, Chicken Salad [to name a few].
Family Specialties include Lasagna, Ravioli, Chicken Parmesan, Cannelloni, Salsicci Pasta, Baked Ziti, and Macaroni & Cheese.
Their Pasta Classics include Italian Sausage, and Fettuccini Alfredo, Pasta Primavera [assorted fresh vegetables & garlic sauteed in olive oil and served over fettuccini with choice of meat sauce, marinara or pesto].
They also feature homemade soups and chili. Their sides include French Fries, Cottage Fries, Baked Potato, Rice Pilaf, and Garlic Bread.
However, they are most famous for their Pizza!
Favorite Dish: We took the manager's advice and ordered the Pizza. This restaurant was the first in Central Illinois to offer pizza.
They feature a pizza called A LA BALDINI, which was the first pizza they ever offered. It has sausage, pepperoni, ham, mushroom, onions, green peppers and pepperoncini!
We ordered a LARGE pizza with onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes. The crust was just excellent [it was a thin pizza]. Next time, I would have substituded Pepperoni on top rather than the sliced tomatoes. Allan had a draft beer, and I enjoyed a diet Pepsi with two slices of lemon. Along with our two side salads, we were more than stuffed.
So glad that we listed to everyone and went to the wonderful Lucca Grill.
- Food and Dining
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Try corn sticks !
Well after spending the afternoon at the pool and miniature golf, we went for refreshments in the little room next to the pool. Of course burgers and fries were added to the order, and I couldn't help trying those corn sticks... I had never seen this before, but I really loved them !
Dr. Margarita's: The Dr. is IN
This restraunt has become a second home to my husband and I. The food is fantastic, the service is first rate, and the Margarita's are the best on the planet.
I have so many favorites, I can't give you a special one to try. The prices are resonable and the chips and salsa are great. Don't forget to try a margarita. There are over 200 tequilas to choose from. The Dr. will be happy to mix you one special.
Favorite Dish: Make sure you save room for the Fried Ice Cream for desert. This is different than any you've tried before. We usually share and there is still plenty left over.
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Dr. Margarita's: Avoid it ...
The place used to be a chinese restaurant, and it looks as though most of the furniture was salvaged from it.
I wouldn't go so far as to say it's authentic. The food has plenty of spice but is otherwise bland. The margaritas were watery. The salsa is great but the chips are chewy (a lot of them bend).
My dish was the Acapulco style beef with chiles de arbol. I like fiery food, and this qualified. The adobo was good (not great), but the meat was chewy (may have been skirt steak). This is probably too spicy for the average pallet.
The rest of the food had little flavor.
Central Station: Historic Building, Excellent Food
I always like to dine in historic settings, so it was a treat to eat at Central Station, a restaurant in a meticulously restored firehouse on the east side of downtown Bloomington. This is no small scale refurbishment: someone poured a bundle into making this place special. I especially like the bronze canopy over the gorgeous bar. If I lived in the area I would probably find an excuse to come here at least once every week: to have a light lunch or coffee in the mezzanine cafe; to sit at the bar and work my way through their excellent wine list; or to dine off the menu and enjoy the well-prepared and tasty entrees.
Favorite Dish: I had bourbon-soaked porkchops that were exquisite, but the chicken diablo also looked good. Steak and pasta are also specialties here. Bring your appetite.
- Food and Dining
Denny's: Best Club Sandwich
It's the closest to a diner I found.
Favorite Dish: The club sandwich is GOOD, although you can't get it with chips. Fine toast, not too much bacon and you can take off the extra turkey if you want.
I also tried the club at Tom's where the bread was stale and the lettuce funky tasting.
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