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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. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

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  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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