Raviolis Italian Bistro has great décor and a delicious Italian menu but it is the small things that impressed during a visit for a weekday lunch.
Each table had a small wooden shelf above with a pumpkin and floating tea light. When a customer dropped by to order to go, the server walked the customer to the bar area and provided free water.
For years, I heard the great reviews of one of Lake Elsinore’s most talked about restaurant. Chef Guiseppe Di Gristina has run the Italian restaurant along with his wife Vincenza, who is often serving drinks at the bar. The restaurant is broken into two areas: a small conventional romantic restaurant with white linen tables and a bar with a piano and live music played on the weekend.
Stepping into Raviolis felt like stepping away from Elsinore and into a more hip downtown scene like San Diego or Santa Monica for a bite of Italian fare.
After scouring the menu I decided on the Tuesday to Friday lunch special: a soup or salad and a choice of one of seven entrees for $15.
I then left the decision in the server’s hands and she chose the Pasta Fagioli and Pollo ala Caprese.
Prior to the food, the server brought out bread and three spreads – garlic cloves, an olive tapenade and churned butter. The cloves and tapenade were a welcomed touch.
It took the server about 10 minutes to bring the Pasta Fagioli out in a small cup. The Fagioli was made with white Cannelloni beans and tomatoes in a light broth. The Fagioli was top notch and was not too heavy.
The Pollo ala Caprese arrived on a white plate with a small side of vegetables. The lightly breaded chicken breast was topped with two sliced tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella cheese and basil chiffinade. An extra light virgin olive oil and balsamic reduction was spread across the chicken and vegetables.
At first, I was concerned about how tough the chicken would be when I had to force the knife to get through parts. But when I took a bite of the chicken, cheese and tomato together, I was thoroughly enjoyed. The sauce, when tasted on its own had a black licorice feel, mixed well with the almost citrus taste of the chicken. The sautéed chicken was tougher than I expected but balanced out the softness of the cheese and tomatoes. The cook even added a ravioli on the plate, which made me wish I ordered a plate of the delicious pasta.
All in all the food matched the experience and was definitely worth the $15 price tag.
The lunch special runs until 3 p.m., when the restaurant closes for an hour and reopens for dinner.
Menu items include an assortment of ravioli served up in a variety of sauces, cannelloni, and veal or chicken served per the customer’s request. Prices range from $7 appetizers to $22.
The owner has also opened a Raviolis in Murrieta and offers wine and cooking classes. The restaurant is located at 123 Main Street, Lake Elsinore.
Tuesday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4:30 – 10 p.m.
Friday: 4:30 – 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 4:30 – 9 p.m.
Information: 951-245-7242 or www.raviolisitalian.com.