I will always be a tough critic when it comes to Italian food.
No, I’m not Italian, but I did study abroad there last summer. There is nothing quite like eating a plate of spaghetti in Florence or stuffing your face with pizza in Venice.
Wow, those were good times. Now that I’m back in the Knoxville, finding a good Italian place has been a very disappointing experience. I usually keep my hopes low just to stop the disappointment from creeping in.
So there I was, sitting in my friend Andrew’s box car after the Knoxville Film Festival. My friends and I decided to get some Italian for dinner and since I was running on six hours of sleep, I just let them choose without really thinking about it.
We pull up to what looks like a strip mall in the Cedar Bluff area. So….this place is near a Jason’s Deli, I’m immediately throwing judgement and imagining the tasteless spaghetti noodles waiting for us.
We walk inside Altruda’s Italian Restaurant and are greeted with a very “mom and pop” set-up. It is what I would call casual-fancy. There are wine bottles adorning the walls and makeshift chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It is pretty busy on a Saturday night which is a good sign.
I split the calamari with Jessy to start as an appetizer. Calamari is the quintessential Italian restaurant appetizer. If they get that wrong then, you know the rest of the meal isn’t looking to promising. To my delight, they cooked the calamari to perfection. The cut of the squid was a little bit thicker which is how I like it, and it was tender which means the chef really knew what they were doing in the kitchen.
To follow this deliciousness, I ordered the lasagna which came with garlic rolls and a traditional Italian salad with homemade dressing. The garlic rolls were fluffy with bursts of garlicky goodness in every bite. The lasagna was delightful with al dente noodles and tangy meat sauce. I do wish that the meat was a little bit thicker and the sauce a little sweeter, but those are minor complaints.
All in all, the meal was fantastic. It wasn’t the best Italian I’ve ever had (obviously), but it came pretty close.
My words of wisdom: Never judge a book by its cover, but especially when it comes to choosing a restaurant.
Jessica Carr is a senior majoring in journalism and electronic media at UT. She is an independent food blogger. You can check out her blog by clicking here.
Altruda’s Italian Restaurant is located at 125 N Peters Rd, Knoxville, TN 37923
Featured image by Jessica Carr
Edited by Taylor Owens