Italian cuisine done right in college

Italian restaurants and Mexican restaurants share quite a bit in common. They pop up on every corner of small towns, they can be pricey or budget-friendly, and they always claim to be the authentic experience of their respective country. As much as people like to claim such, what should matter the most is the execution of the food and the experience of eating as a customer. These are the most important things a restaurant and its owner should take pride in. What does Luigi’s Italian Grill, the latest Italian restaurant in Huntsville, have to offer?

To start off with some basic info, Luigi’s Italian Grill is located on Sam Houston Avenue, between 15th Street and the Cricket Wireless store. For those familiar with Huntsville, it is right where Quizno’s used to be before the chain closed its doors. Parking is a bit of a hassle, as the location is not very spacious. During busier hours, it is advisable to park on 15th Street and walk. Business hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., so anyone wanting to navigate through the current road construction might want to leave an extra 15-20 minutes early. Of course, if you live near Sam Houston Village or the Elliot/Buchannan dorms travel is easier. I only say this because the construction has been intensive to the point where driving on the H-E-B side is a bit hectic.

There are also plans to incorporate a student discount into the prices on the menu. However, due to the recent complications brought on by Hurricane Harvey, the discount will not be in effect until sometime next month. Students looking for savings can still save more than a trip to the Olive Garden, though, as few items go above $15. In addition, its close proximity to campus might be a bonus for students wanting to stop for a bite to eat and don’t want to deal with campus food.

As far as my experience went with Luigi’s Italian Grill, it was largely positive, but some things could use improvement. One thing I would like to see improved on is the overall energy of the staff, as I spotted some of the staff looking bored and it could come off the wrong way to potential return customers. When it came to customer service, the waitress did a good job of checking on me. That is often an indication to me that the staff is properly trained and are aware of customer service. I would like to see that remains consistent with the rest of the staff and future employees as time goes on. I found that the timing of the service was very appropriate for the meal being made. I also found it interesting that I could choose my own seat, as it does help establish the casual vibe the restaurant has.

For the purpose of this review, I tried the garlic bread with a cheese appetizer and the meatball pizza, which strangely enough is not included in the online menu as of today. I also tried the single garlic roll I received, which was only slightly seasoned and buttered. While I did not request more in order to save some room for the other food, the roll itself wasn’t bad.

The garlic bread with a cheese appetizer was served with marinara sauce. The size of the dish was a bit large for an appetizer and it could have used less cheese. Overall, the quality of the bread was evenly baked and the cheese melted at the right consistency—it was not too thick, but was a tiny bit stringy. The marinara sauce was like most marinara I have had—nothing really stood out to me. However, the sauce was not watery or runny, so that is always a good thing.

The pizza I had was probably the highlight of the meal. It is hard to find a quality local pizza place because it is often hit-or-miss depending on where you go. After having to endure rounds of ordering from Papa John’s, Dominoes, Pizza Hut, and the campus pizza line, it is a bit refreshing to have some restaurant pizza that’s actually pretty good. Last time I ordered pizza (a calzone to be exact) from a restaurant, there was a huge amount of grease pooling in the box. Yeah, that was not a pleasant experience, so I was happy to have had a good experience with Luigi’s pizza. Everything tasted like it was made from scratch, which beats taking a frozen pizza home any day. I also found the portions on the pizza to be reasonable. I would not have minded a little more sauce. The crust was not too thin to be a glorified wafer, but also not too thick.

Overall, Luigi’s Italian Grill is definitely worth a visit or two, even if you just want to save some cash or because you’re sick of everything else at the moment. Once October rolls around, look forward to saving even more with a discounted price when you show your Bearkat One card. Despite the problems with its location and parking, Luigi’s has the potential to become Huntsville’s new go-to restaurant. If the staff service improves, along with a hit with the crowd for its food, I could see Luigi’s being a very successful venture. It might not be the most revolutionary place on the planet, but Luigi’s Italian Grill does its job to satisfy.

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