• Where: Primo Restaurant, 1100 Hixson Pike.
• Phone: 423-602-5555.
• Website: primochattanooga.com.
• Hours: 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; bar opens at 4 p.m.
• Price range: $13-$22 (entrees).
Nathan Lindley seems to have the golden touch in the restaurant business. Excellent food, good service, convenient location and friendly staff are the hallmarks of his previous successful eateries, which include St. John's (which he sold in 2005), and Public House (a favorite of mine that he still owns).
When I heard that Lindley was opening an Italian restaurant, Primo, in Riverview, I knew without a doubt it would be top-notch. I wasn't wrong. It's housed in the original Greenlife grocery building on Hixson Pike, so parking is not an issue, which is always a pleasant way to start a dining experience.
My husband, Hank, and I started with the Carpaccio, Arugula, Horseradish, Parmesan "snack" ($9). We cleaned the plate in less than four minutes. It was that good. We contemplated ordering another, but, instead, saved room for the salad and entree.
The antipasti/snack menu offers a diverse selection, ranging from a plate of olives ($5) to a cheese plate of three cheeses ($13) to a "salumi" plate (salami) ($13).
Salads offered are Caesar, with anchovy and parmesan ($5); Cafe, with pecorino and chianti vinaigrette ($5); Arugula, with ricotta and balsamic ($8); and Caprese, with mozzarella, basil and balsamic ($8). Hank ordered the Caesar (with fresh anchovy), and I got the Arugula. Both were excellent.
Pasta lovers won't be disappointed with the menu. The choices are Penne & Shrimp fra Diavolo ($16); Strozzapreti & Bolognese ($15); Tagliatelle Pasta Primavera ($13); Lasagna Bolognese ($16); Polenta, Mushrooms & Parmesan ($14) and Baked Penne & 4 Cheeses ($14).
For the entree, or as the menu states "Secondi/Main Plates," Hank selected Sausage & Peppers, Fennel Pollen ($16). The dish was heavy on the sausage, much to his delight. He said the meal was "perfect."
I chose the Pork Scaloppini, Capers & Butter ($16). The generous serving included two large pieces of breaded pork that were excellent. It was so good, in fact, that I'm always going to have a hard time ordering anything different from the menu. I won't be willing to give up the pork, although the Grilled New York Strip Steak, Garlic & Lemon ($22) is tempting. The additional entree selection is Pickett's Trout, Lemon/Thyme and Giardiniera ($18).
Cocktails, bottle and draft beer and wine, by the glass or bottle is served.
The 2,400-square-foot restaurant seats 82 people, either at a table or booth. There's also a bar.
The wait staff is friendly and the atmosphere welcoming.
My husband and I always enjoy chatting with our wait person. We appreciate how hard they work and trust they will tend to our needs while we dine. We've got family members who either work in the restaurant business now or who have previously. We understand the challenges the wait staff face and appreciate their good service. We also believe in generous tipping for excellent service.
The staff at Primo is attentive and friendly. Our waiter not only offered detailed information about the menu but answered our questions about the origin of the fresh vegetables and meat. The conversation was friendly and helpful.
We were served within 10 minutes of sitting down at the table.
Superb. Thumbs up. Grade A+.
And that's what Chattanoogans and area residents have become accustomed to at Lindley's restaurants. He doesn't fail. Unless you're looking for typical Southern fare, you won't be disappointed at Primo (if Southern food is your choice, check out Lindley's Public House restaurant at Warehouse Row where, in my opinion, you'll find the best fried chicken in Hamilton County).
The food preparation at Primo is heavily Italian-influenced. Still, there's something for every taste on the menu. The Pork Scaloppini, for example, will pleasantly satisfy anyone who favors Southern-style pork chops.
Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6396.