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DINING: Drive-by Carmel newcomer worth a stop

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Dining - A&E

There are certainly people living within a gnocchi’s throw of J. Razzo’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar (12501 N. Meridian St., Carmel, 844-9333). But it qualifies for this month’s theme of “en route” restaurants because most potential customers are likely to first see it while heading toward downtown from points north or heading up to Clay Terrace or the Palladium from points south.

Whatever the case, they’ll find in this strip-center Italian newbie a restaurant making a serious effort to combine casual and classy. The sneaker-and-jean-clad host combined with the classically muted, if slightly generic, décor send a message to come as you are.

ae-j-razzos1col.jpg Spiced ground beef is layered into J. Razzo’s lasagna, a lunch staple. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

On the lunch food front, J. Razzo’s doesn’t yet dazzle—at least on my visits. But there were certainly pleasures to be had in this comfortable, friendly eatery. My guest and I would have been deeply disappointed if either of us had ordered the individual pizza ($7 for a Tomato & Cheese version) as a lunch entre. One of our two appetizers, the dull disc seemed like an afterthought. Better were the Risotto Balls ($6), although only one of the two orbs on our platter had the promised sweet peas inside. Odd.

J. Razzo’s defines an Italian Cheeseburger ($8—refreshing in a dining world where $10+ burgers are becoming the norm) as topped with sliced onion, tomato, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, and a dab of sauce. In any language, it would prove a hearty, flavorful combo. An Italian Panini ($8), packed with prosciutto and provolone, at least showed a little flair, thanks to a pesto aioli that moved it beyond the basic grilled ham and cheese. Side options are limited to French fries or pasta salad, neither of which distinguished themselves.

Happiest of our diners was the one who went for the pasta, scoring a hefty block of lasagna ($8), with plenty of spiced ground beef, fresh pasta layers, and an aromatic, savory red sauce that left us wishing for more bread to soak it up with.•

—Lou Harry

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Second in a month-long series of “en route” restaurants.
 

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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