If you go
› Where: Il Primo Ooltewah, 9423 Bradmore Lane
› Hours: 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Bar hours 4-10:30 p.m. Monday- Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
› Price range: Appetizers $7-$12, Main dishes $13-$34
› Alcohol: Yes
› For more information: 423-498-1300
› Website: primochattanooga.com/ooltewah-restaurant
This week's review takes us to a new location of an already loved Italian restaurant: Il Primo. The local restaurant's newest space located in the growing area of Cambridge Square in Ooltewah offers everything the North Shore hot spot does in terms of tastes and atmosphere according to its listings online, so I was curious to compare the two and see how they measured up.
Like its North Shore counterpart, the design of the restaurant features some industrial design including exposed ductwork, a concrete floor and black iron chandeliers. While beautiful, it doesn't lend itself well to holding a conversation when the restaurant is busy as sounds and voices carry and create a louder-than-normal atmosphere. On my particular night to dine there, it was a very full house, and I had a little trouble hearing the servers, but that didn't take away from their attention to making sure I was taken care of.
Outside, there's a small patio for al fresco dining, which I would love to take advantage of once the weather warms up. The setting, which is not too far from the center outdoor space of Cambridge Square that's often used for live music during the summer months, looks like it would be the perfect spot for a date night.
In classic Italian style, guests have the option to start with an antipasti of meats and cheeses that pair well with the restaurant's vast wine list or other appetizers varying from olives to fried ravioli.
There's a good selection of pastas and grains that feature favorites with a twist like butternut squash risotto, mushroom ravioli, Lasagna Bolognese and spinach pasta. Main dishes include chicken picatta, chicken marsala, grilled fish or even dry aged Barton Creek Meatballs and Sunday sauce. So whatever your palate for the Italian genre, you're bound to find something to suit your tastebuds.
Let's not overlook dessert: Il Primo in Ooltewah features a classic cannoli with cream cheese and chocolate-chip filling, tiramisu and other sweet treats to help round out your dining experience.
Prices on main dishes range from $13 to $34, the more expensive being a juicy beef fillet and roasted garlic. Pair any dish with a red or white wine or a draft beer of your choice, and you have the makings of the perfect meal.
I have to confess I had a hard time making a selection, but I finally settled on the mushroom ravioli. It arrived looking particularly stunning on a large white dish drizzled in a creamy mushroom sauce and finely shredded cheese. The first bite proved the taste was just as delectable as the presentation. The ravioli was cooked to a nicely soft al dente consistency, and the mushrooms that filled them were very flavorful and creamy.
Since I'm pregnant, I had to pass on a wine pairing for this meal, but I think it would have been fantastic with one of the restaurant's Italian whites.
I did however opt for a dessert instead, tiramisu, with a decaf coffee to round out my meal. It was light, fluffy, cool and creamy, just as the classic Italian dessert should be. I also really enjoyed that their style for the dish only dusts a section of the treat with chocolate powder rather than covering the entire square, which I feel can make it too rich. This one was just right, and with the bitterness of the decaf coffee it was the perfect way to complete my dinner.
I mentioned earlier that it was a full house on my night to visit, but that absolutely did not detract from everyone from the hostess to the servers making sure I had what I needed when I needed it.
I dined on my own for this review, so I opted to sit at the bar so as not to take up valuable table space when I could see that it was busy. The bartenders and table servers alike would constantly stop by my seat to see if I needed more water, flatware or lemon wedges. When I was ready to place my order, they took it down quickly, accurately and my ticket did not take long at all to get out.
And I truly believe all of it wasn't done out of duty, as each time someone came by they were smiling, sincere and very prompt to get the things I asked for even when they were doing other tasks simultaneously.
I honestly can't wait to visit Il Primo again, both to try another dish and to enjoy a date night out on the patio as soon as spring decides to join us here in the Scenic City. The service was spot-on, and my first meal at this location was delicious. I may opt for a less busy evening, if there is such a thing, to be able to hear my dinner companions going forward, but overall it's a great new addition to the Cambridge Square family.
Email Brandi Dixon at email@example.com.