Restaurant Guide Update: September 2019
Maialina Italian Kitchen + Bar
1103 Prospect St., 317-982-7676
Straw-wrapped chianti bottles, wooden cross-back chairs, and family photos give a throwback trattoria feel to this Fountain Square addition to the city’s Italian scene, opened by Ambrosia heir Francesca Pizzi and stepbrother Lawrence Green. The popular Aperol spritz tops a cocktail menu with some fun pours, including well-priced Italian reds and whites. Lighter touches are welcome among starters such as a whipped ricotta bruschetta and a fragrant truffled mushroom flatbread with plenty of fresh rosemary. But meatballs, from a family recipe, are always a good choice with a solid house marinara. Pastas range from a straightforward toss of rigatoni with sausage and broccoli rabe to a rich and meaty three-meat Bolognese lavished atop plump gnocchi. The simple-sounding shrimp Vesuvio marries shrimp with a spiced lemon butter sauce atop crusty bread. And dessert is a must, especially the Torta della Nonna, a light and lemony ricotta torte that’s the perfect way to end a meal. Dinner daily.
10th Street Diner
3301 E. 10th St., 463-221-1255
Surprisingly familiar and hearty plant-based takes on diner classics occupy the entire menu at this creative mother-son collaboration of Karen and Will Holmes. A painstaking rehab of a former pawn shop, complete with a side patio, provides a comfy backdrop for enjoying such tasty fakeouts as a gooey and satisfying seitan Reuben, a “chicken” pot pie, and house chili that rivals your favorite version con carne. Showstoppers include the many-layered lasagna with plenty of fresh veggies, a bright tomato sauce, and a tangy “cheese” concocted from tofu and cashews. A burrito plentifully stuffed with spicy soy “chorizo” is also a hit, as is a colorfully dressed arugula salad with pecans, apples, and cherries. Accompaniments such as tortilla chips and fries dusted with an in-house seasoning stand up to the main dishes (or make great snacks), and serve-yourself drinks and a friendly staff make this a welcome addition to Indy’s healthier eating scene. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat.
The Cake Bake Shop
800 S. Rangeline Rd., Carmel, 317-257-2253
The fairytale continues at Gwendolyn Rogers’s second tribute to layered cakes and buttercream icing, a pristine Carmel expansion dripping with chandeliers. There are hints of the twinkly, cottage-like Broad Ripple original in the white-on-white-on-white decor, but Cake Bake 2.0 is polished to a brilliance, and the patisserie menu has expanded to include delicate fare, like the esteemed Chicken Velvet soup, a stacked club sandwich, and frites. But the mood is as frilly as ever, especially for diners who reserve a table on the breezy veranda that overlooks the fountains of Carmel City Center. Lunch and dinner daily.
4150 Lafayette Rd., 317-991-4153
Cooks from both Pakistan and Afghanistan staff the kitchen at this welcome addition to the diverse Lafayette Road culinary scene. Chicken and lamb curries, biryani, and vegetarian dishes rotate as à la carte options and at a weekend buffet, and are solid choices on par with nearby Indian and Pakistani spots. But light, fragrant Afghani specialties are rare finds here, especially tender meat dumplings topped with lentils and a beguiling, well-spiced eggplant-and-tomato appetizer garnished with yogurt and mint. Don’t miss the pillowy, crispy-edged Afghani naan, a chewier, yeastier version of the more familiar flatbread sprinkled with sesame seeds and brushed with butter. Split a generous platter of pulao, a pilaf with chicken or mutton, or go for the mixed grill to sample almost every kebab on the menu. An in-house halal butcher means meats are especially fresh and available to take home for your international dinner party. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun.