Give DiPiero's Pizzeria and Ristorante in Lake Zurich credit for staying power.
The town's central business district has all but shifted southwest and evolved along the busy U.S. Route 12 corridor, but this stalwart restaurant, owned and operated by Bob Narcisi for more than three decades, hasn't budged and continues to attract a loyal clientele.
DiPiero's Pizzeria & Ristorante17 E. Main St., Lake Zurich (847) 438-3256; take-out and delivery at 44 S. Old Rand Road, (847) 438-3252
Cuisine: Italian American
Setting: Casual '70s throwback
Entrees: $13 to $24
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. daily
Since the last time I supped there 15 years ago, little has changed except for the escalated prices. Today's diners can expect to fork over $13 to $24 for an entree, excluding appetizer, beverage, tax and tip.
The freestanding building, with a white stucco exterior, is unprepossessing as is its cramped, dimly lit interior with barely enough space to handle 50 diners. Yet on a recent Tuesday night nearly every one of its seats was occupied by 7 p.m. And judging by the way they were greeted, a majority of the patrons were regulars.
Familiar Italian-inspired favorites populate DiPiero's extensive menu. Some are hits, others less so.
High marks to the kitchen for its expertise in handling fried calamari. The lightly breaded squid rings, accompanied by a sweet chili dipping sauce, were as tender as could be. Another plus: the portion was generous enough for two to share.
Some of the other appetizer options included bruschetta, baked clams, shrimp cocktail, grilled octopus and artichoke hearts.
A fellow diner chose well for her main course: a 9-inch round DiPiero's Special pizza. This thin-crusted signature dish packed a lot of flavor from its toppings: sausage, mushrooms, onion, green peppers, bacon and mozzarella. Note: The establishment also offers take-out and local delivery service from a separate facility around the corner.
Unfortunately, my veal Milanese entree didn't live up to its potential. The two seasoned, breaded cutlets, pounded thin and served with capers, were overcooked, rendering the meat tough. The dish was plated with small boiled potatoes and sauteed eggplant. A serviceable green house salad accompanied; oddly, an unmentioned 75-cent upcharge was added to the bill for a bland blue cheese dressing.
A wide variety of pasta dishes, such as fettucine alfredo, ravioli and linguini and clams, also is available. Meanwhile, chicken fans will find such preparations as marsala, piccata, parmigiana and vesuvio. Recent specials included osso buco, beef braciole, halibut vesuvio and rigatoni contadina.
Desserts follow the tried-and-true playlist of tiramisu, cannoli, spumoni and chocolate cake. Skip the cannoli cake, which is overly sweet even for someone with a sweet tooth.
A full-service bar stocks a diverse selection of wines, both domestic and Italian, including a smooth Folonari Chianti Classico sold by the glass or bottle. Of four beers on tap, two are Italian brews: Moretti and Peroni.
While DiPiero's fare can sometimes fall short of expectations, that's not the case with its service, thanks to a hard-working, attentive wait staff.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.