On the second floor of a picturesque brick building on Idaho between 6th and 7th street, the dining room at Louie's is full of the usual Italian restaurant tchotchkes on the walls and natural light from the many tall windows. On the day I was there, my table was by a window overlooking Idaho Street, and directly in front of me at the other end of the restaurant was a view of the building across the way, with a mural painted on its brick walls.
The food at Louie's is American-style Italian, with a menu featuring all the usual suspects like spaghetti, lasagna, eggplant parmigana and chicken artichoke fettuccine, as well as pizzas, calzones, salads and sandwiches.
I ordered the chicken cannelloni-pasta tubes stuffed with chicken and spinach and covered with rosato sauce and mozzarella cheese. I couldn't decide on just one dressing for my salad, so I asked for both creamy garlic and sundried tomato vinegarette-on the side. I was there for lunch so all this set me back less than eight bucks. After ordering from a friendly waitress (who called me "honey" and who, I'm pretty sure, was several years my junior), my salad and garlic bread were quickly delivered to my table.
The salad was nothing spectacular-iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms and a glut of black olives. The dressings, however, were both delicious. I still can't decide which I liked better-although, if we're judging on flexibility, the garlic would edge out the vinegarette by virtue of that fact that the former is a great dipper for garlic bread. And speaking of garlic bread-it, too, was good.
It wasn't long before my cannelloni arrived-two enormous, stuffed pasta tubes covered in a pink sauce and melted cheese. Of the spinach and chicken stuffing, spinach was by far more plentiful, though I could detect the chicken. After eating about a quarter of the food, I was getting full. It tasted pretty good-a simple, uneventful flavor combination that was perfectly fine. There was a little blandness overall, but that's almost what one expects-even wants-from American Italian. It needed garlic or something, but I settled for several vigorous sprinkles from the parmesan and pepper shakers and was happy.
-Sara Beitia is frequently called "honey" by strangers.