From the moment you walk into this quaint little joint that is Napoli Villa you feel as if though you have stepped into a little café on the other side of the pond. (Having spent six months in Paris, France, I know what it is like to have a meal in a foreign country. Napoli Villa brought back a ton of memories of my time over seas.) The walls appear to be old and rustic, the decorations, including the local artist paintings hanging on the walls (all of which are for sale), are fitting to the theme, and the attention the service staffs pays to you does not fit the Americana stereotype. Even the wine rack hanging behind the bar has a story behind it.
Napoli Villa has recently gone through a complete renovation and just celebrated their grand re-opening this past Sunday. But before I start talking about the multi-course meal and the band that performed while we all dined to celebrate their re-opening, I wanted to touch base on the event that happened prior; yet another great Paul Poteet’s Gotta Eat!
This particular PPGE was on a Sunday, which is the first time one of these has taken place on the weekend. Did that mean there would be a bigger crowd than usual? That is exactly what that meant. The events normally start at 4:30 in the afternoon making it difficult for some to attend the ones during the week but being on Sunday opened the door for a lot more people.
Napoli Villa sits in the heart of Beech Grove on the cities’ southeast side. Beech Grove is not easy to find however, at least the way Google Maps described how to get there. If you have not been down there before make sure you have a map readily available in case you get lost. You literally get there by driving through a few neighborhoods on your way. You see homes and small businesses on either side then all of a sudden you run straight into Napoli Villa. The restaurant is small and sits on the corner of what appears to be the Beech Grove main street. There is free public parking all around which is nice.
We got started with their appetizer sampler, for lack of a better word. It was stacked high with a variety of cheeses, two kinds of olives, some deep fried ravioli (which would later prove to be the single best item we would taste all night) and a few other samplings. From there we were greeted with some more of the deep fried ravioli and some of the freshest bruschetta I have ever tasted.
Based off the taste alone you could tell that this stuff was home made. The ravioli’s outside was dusted with a subtle crust and the inside was filled with a soft and savory cheese. And the bruschetta had a nice toasted base with a heavy scent and flavor of olives. Each bite made you feel more and more like you were sitting at a table somewhere on the streets of Italy. Any place that can produce food that smells and tastes as authentic as this deserves some attention.
Napoli Villa then featured their specialty. It is said that they offer the best meatballs in the world. So when the meatballs came, and after a round of applause for the master mind behind these delicate round treats, we dug in. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have had a variety of meatballs in my day. Most of them taste about the same and are based on the sauce you dip them in more than the meat itself. But these little guys were not only the furthest things from ordinary, they didn’t taste like any other meatball that I have ever had. I won’t go as far as saying these are the best meatballs in the world, but they are incredible.
We also had the chance to try bowtie pasta that had a spicy sausage and red sauce base to it. It was delicious and I am not sure if the sauce itself was producing the spice or the sausage, but I begged for seconds by the time I had finished my first plate. Just then a huge platter of fresh calamari hit the table. The calamari was very lightly breaded, similar to that of the breaded ravioli. It also had a hint of salt, which made it taste more authentic. Granted, while the amount of food at this PPGE event was not as much as previous events, it was at a much higher quality which did not call for a lot in quantity to produce a true authentic Italian quality.
Joining us at this week’s PPGE was a handful of regulars. You had guys like Chris Hadley of Cuisine Made Quick, Walter Grassi from Smart USA, and even Bob and Jessica Clark made it out. (These two are a treat to have present at these events. If you do not know Bob and Jessica Clark then you need to not only come to the next event but you need to make sure you introduce yourself to these two individuals.) There were also new faces sitting all around. Folks like Ian Meyers, Travis Weik and Sheryl Hugill attended their first experience. And based on their reaction to the food, they all seemed to have a great time.
Napoli Villa is family owned and operated and it truly shows in the way you are treated from their host staff at the front door to the service staff to even the executive chef walking around and introducing him to each and every table. You feel at home, not as if you are out for a nice meal, and you are treated as though you truly matter to the restaurant owners. Welcoming in the Paul Poteet event was a great way to introduce all of us to the restaurant. But we don’t stop there. When the first event came to a close around 6:00 PM it was time to start preparing for the next event. That night, after Paul Poteet’s Gotta Eat, Napolia Villa had their official grand re-opening party. I was lucky enough to be invited to join in this as well.
After all of the folks from PPGE made their way toward the ext, the staff worked quickly and diligently to clean the room we were just in. They were running a little behind, you could tell, but it took no time at all to get everything setup for the dinner party.
The room that we found ourselves in for the duration of the evening was quite small. Granted, there were a ton of folks in there for the event with Mr. Poteet, but it seemed very crowded and made it difficult to move around once people started arriving. However, they managed to make it open up a little for the dinner party as the tables were now organized differently and there was plenty of space to breath. Just as we got settled into our table a server walked up and asked us what we wanted to drink.
I was actually, at the time, a little uncertain what this follow up event was. I knew that it was their grand re-opening dinner, but I was uncertain as to what all was included and what we could expect. The server, unfortunately, did not provide me with a very detailed description, but throughout the evening we would learn it was simply a multi-course meal showcasing some of their specialty dishes. Who can be upset with these meatballs, their cheesy pasta, and their incredible oil drenched salads?
One thing I did notice that caught me off guard was their dishware. I understand they are a family owned and operated establishment, but not all of their dishware matched. Even at our four-person table there were dishes from various collections. The salad plates and the bread plates did not match and unless I am missing something, that is quite the initial eyesore. Of course, there might be a story behind it as to why they use the dishware that they do, but it was noticeable to anyone paying attention.
Another thing that caught me off guard was their plate presentations. For instance, the pasta dish that came right before the main course during dinner was just a pile of pasta on a plate. It was something I would imagine better served in a bowl, and there was nothing to enhance the dish what so ever. It literally was just pasta on a plate. The pasta was good, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted my eyes to be a little more entertained.
The dinner was well balanced. The night was finished off with a lemon cream cannoli and a nice cup of coffee. Considering all of the food that we ate during the Paul Poteet event, and the five courses we had at dinner, all I wanted to do was take a nap and relax. The meal was definitely what I would call, “filled with comfort food” and the conversation throughout the evening was absolutely irreplaceable. Meeting new people is something I thrive on and these events are made for that.
So the folks over at Napoli Villa, thank you for your incredible hospitality and delicious food. From the salad to the meatballs and the calamari to the ravioli, know that you will be seeing me again very soon. They have created something special here in the Circle City by offering you a truly authentic Italian experience. Make sure that you take a trip to Beech Grove and visit everyone at Napoli Villa very soon.