A little bit of Italy in Indiana
By AMANDA GRECO
Assistant Scene Editor
So maybe some people are a bit spoiled, perhaps even biased, when it comes to Italian food. Good Italian grandmas make sure their grandkids have nothing but the tastiest traditional foods. With this in mind, some might be a bit skeptical about the quality of a supposed Italian restaurant in this area. However, Samuel Mancino's Italian Eatery, with its quaint title, exceeds expectations.
Nestled snuggly in the middle of a typical strip mall, the exterior fašade of this building belies the little diner's representation of Italy. The interior walls are lined with high backed wooden benches and there is more seating in the center of the room. The tables are covered in red and white checkered tablecloths that bring to mind dresses worn by little girls in Sicily. The hanging plants, low lights and beautiful pictures of Italy on the walls are all very nice touches.
Perhaps this is too generous a description. This is not your nice, sit-down dinner place. Rather, it's a place your order at the window and play video games while you wait type of food joint. It may not appeal to those higher Epicureans, but for the college kid looking for good food on a low budget, it's a great place to eat.
A slight miscommunication revealed that the people who worked there are genuinely nice. A customer had called prior to arriving to make sure she could use her credit card, but upon arrival, learned that the machine was broken. She had no other form of payment with her. The man behind the counter offered the suggestions of ATM or personal check and was not the least bit put off when she told him she would have to leave and return with more money. He held her order and threw it in the oven as soon as she returned. He then apologized profusely for the inconvenience the broken credit card machine had caused. He addressed everyone by his or her first name and was generally very jovial. Everyone in the diner knew one another personally, which provided a very familiar feeling.
The food is brought to the table quickly and is piping hot. The specialty at this eatery is a sandwich they call "The Grinder." It's a variation on the traditional sub, available in eight- and 16-inch lengths for the individual, or two-, four-, or six-foot sections for large groups (phone order in 24 hours ahead for these monsters).
Though some may think their taste buds are very discerning, it must be remembered that dining hall food lowers many palates' expectations. The food here is much better than anticipated. The barbecue beef Grinder and ham and cheese Grinder come highly recommended. The bread is the best (sorry, Grandmas), baked fresh daily right in Samuel's eatery!
Besides the food being great in taste, it is very reasonable in price. The soft drinks are refillable and the Grinders come with chips. Samuel's also offers a wide variety of appetizers, pizzas, and twenty-one different Grinders. This eatery provides friendly service, tasty food, good prices, and the best little bit of Italy you're bound to find in any Indiana strip mall. For those of us with Italian Grandmas, they can rest assured that though the dining halls may be disappointing at times, there is no lack of decent Italian food in the South Bend area.
All Scene Stories for Thursday, November 4, 1999