The quest for cold beer on a really hot day put Stevarinos on the map for me. I was in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, with friends to check out the National Cornbread Festival and was a bit dismayed to not find a single beer vendor on the crowded street as the temperature continued to rise. After spotting a dark green awning on the corner with a steady procession of people going in, we decided to try our luck. Not only did the bar have ice-cold Coronas for $3.50, but the kitchen was also doing a brisk business, so we tried Stevarinos' chicken alfredo and pesto pies, which both turned out to be well worth the stop.
Since Stevarinos opened a Chattanooga location — their third in the region — a few months back, I felt some comparison dining might be in order. Although it's billed as Italian, they curiously feature a pair of leprechauns in the company logo, and the menu offers several items that draw from other cuisines such as Buffalo spring rolls and a Cuban panini. That just adds to the place's offbeat appeal, though.
Stevarinos occupies most of the bottom floor of a new building at the corner of Cherokee Boulevard and Manning Street. Its rustic décor of vintage '20s and '30s food advertisements and random found objects here and there is accented by neutral colors and exposed pipes in the ceiling and drop lighting, which gives the place an open feel. Tall, blond-wood tables and stools in the front bar area and smaller dining tables scattered around the side and back can seat around 120 diners. There's also a covered patio in front, framed with thick wooden beams, the perfect spot to relax and take in the scenery in this rapidly growing residential area.
If you go
› Where: Stevarinos Italian Eatery and Pub, 325 Cherokee Blvd., Suite 100.
› Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday
› Price range: $6-$23
› Alcohol: Full bar
› Phone: 423-648-5420
› Website: stevarinos.com
Food choices are abundant. Almost too abundant. You'd be hard-pressed to not find something to like if a fan of traditional Italian dishes, but there are lots of other possibilities if you aren't in the mood for that. Around a dozen pasta dishes and as many salads and sandwiches are available, as well as a massive calzone and several steaks, chops and seafood plates. A dizzying array of pizzas take up a lot of real estate on this menu including Cajun style, Mediterranean and taco. There's also a full bar and numerous domestic, import and craft beers.
I met up with friends Travis, Bert and Carla on a cloudless, early Saturday afternoon. There were a few other diners but, like most places, it was fairly slow that time of day. We ordered draft beers and settled on the Irish egg rolls appetizer ($9), baked corned beef rolled in egg roll skins, fried and served with Thousand Island dressing — in essence, mini deep-fried Reubens, and very tasty. These offer a nice alternative to a typical Reuben sandwich, which often tends to get soggy from the dressing and sauerkraut. A few other meal starters at Stevarinos include stuffed mushrooms ($8), Buffalo shrimp ($9) and fried calamari ($9).
We then ordered the Mediterranean chicken ($14), meatball hoagie ($9), prosciutto panini ($9) and a small Stevarinos deluxe pizza ($13).
Carla's Mediterranean chicken consisted of a lightly breaded chicken breast stuffed with feta cheese, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and pepperoncini, then baked in a white wine sauce. It was served with steamed broccoli and roasted red potatoes and was tender and full of rich flavor.
Bert liked the meatball hoagie ($9), built with the traditional blueprint of handmade meatballs in a marinara sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese, which was served with roasted red potatoes.
Travis and I split the prosciutto panini with a side of pasta salad and the Steve's deluxe. Both were hearty choices. The panini is comprised of several layers of thinly sliced prosciutto, basil leaves, fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze. These four ingredients work marvelously well together. Nothing else could really improve it, although the bread was a bit crustier than I would expect for a panini.
The Stevarinos deluxe came loaded with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, sausage, onions, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers and black olives on a medium-thick crust. I generally prefer thin-crust pies, but this was one of the better pizzas I've had in some time; the ample toppings were fresh and the sauce savory. And though it was a small, the toppings made this fairly substantial. I would, and probably soon will, order this again.
Our server, Audrey, did a good job of keeping up with the table and getting everything out on time as ordered, despite also working at the bar and handling some other tables.
Stevarinos is a great casual dining choice for the North Shore. You can never go wrong with lots of food and drink options at reasonable prices.
Contact Chris Zelk at email@example.com.