Johnny Carino's Country Italian is almost buried in the vastness of the Jordan Landing shopping . . . well, let's call it an "estate." Or possibly a "municipality."
You can see the Italian villa-style building that is Carino's while driving the Bangerter Highway, but you can't get there from there.
Instead, get yourself onto Plaza Center Drive, one of the main roads through the place, and look to the west. Carino's is just south of Barnes & Noble and a little north of Kohl's. Sound like too much trouble to bother with? Believe me, you won't think so once you're there.
We visited Johnny Carino's on a recent weeknight. For you parents, there's an activity-filled and inexpensive (under five bucks for dinner and dessert) kids' menu, along with lidded plastic cups. But this isn't just a "family" place; we saw mostly couples on the night we visited.
The fun really started when our appetizers arrived. We enjoyed the rich and slightly spicy mushrooms stuffed with cheese, spinach, onions and garlic, and topped with lemon-basil cream sauce. However, the real delight was the Italian nachos.
I'm not usually a fan of this kind of "crossover" food, but this appetizer quickly converted me with its delicate, crispy bed of pasta chips supporting a delectable mlange of sausage, chicken, olives, tomatoes, pepperoncini and jalapeos topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and a light Alfredo sauce.
We demolished it. It was fun to try different combinations on each bite, and we never ran out of chips, sauce or meat. It's the kind of dish that makes such a positive impression that you immediately start planning to return and have some more.
For dinner, my husband was yearning for something traditional, such as the Johnny's Combo, which includes 12-layer lasagna, chicken parmigiana and spaghetti with marinara. But I talked him into the timballo, and he didn't regret it. Thin spaghetti topped with marinated onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives, pepperoni and tender, juicy chicken arrived at the table, sizzling in a skillet, having been topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and baked. It's just a little off the beaten path while remaining comfort food, Italian style.
I had one of the "Carino's Choice" items, the wild-mushroom ravioli. These large, round pasta pockets are simply filled with chunky chopped portabella and crimini mushrooms, and a bit of cheese and herb, then dressed with a deeply flavorful creamy marsala sauce with more mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and green onions. Though I barely got through half of my large portion, it was a great meal and made a nice lunch the next day.
For dessert, I naturally tried the tiramisu, a huge square of pastry and creamy cheese, more fluffy than others I've had but with the perfect flavor blend of ladyfingers, espresso and not-too-sweet custard.
My husband had the rich but tender-textured Italian chocolate cake, two enormous triangles of dark single-layer cake with a thin layer of icing and vanilla ice cream on the side. The kids, as part of their meal, were delighted with what they called their "Mickey Mouse" ice cream, a large scoop of vanilla with two vanilla wafers stuck on top like ears.Appetizers $4.99-$7.49 (solo) or $8.99-$13.99 (family platter), salads and soups $3.99-$10.99, pizza $7.49-$8.99, entres $7.99-$15.99 (solo) or $15.49-$26.49 (family), kids' meals $4.29-$4.69, desserts $3.29-$5.79.
Johnny Carino's Country Italian
Rating: *** 1/2 (out of four)
Where: 7191 S. Plaza Center Drive, West Jordan
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Payment: No checks
Phone: 282-8591Web: www.carinos.com
Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News.
- Expelling Santa from school? Holiday...
- TV Review: Broadway wins in live 'Sound of...
- 'Sound of Music' hit a high note for family...
- 'Sound of Music' alive for 18.5 million viewers
- Tips for LDS bloggers from the 'ultimate...
- Netflix has a different take on modern...
- The Killers collaborates with Owen Wilson and...
- Tabernacle hosts annual LDS Latino Christmas...
- Expelling Santa from school? Holiday... 13
- TV Review: Broadway wins in live 'Sound... 11
- The Killers collaborates with Owen... 7
- Saving Africa? New book casts harsh... 6
- 'Sound of Music' alive for 18.5 million... 5
- Faith sustained author through... 5
- Tips for LDS bloggers from the... 5
- 'Sound of Music' hit a high note for... 5