By Lori Bredemeyer, Staff Writer
Johnny Carino’s is a new restaurant in Abilene offering Country Italian cuisine in a family-oriented atmosphere.
The restaurant opened its doors on Dec. 17 and is located at 4157 Buffalo Gap Road where Black-eyed Pea used to be.
Juliana Jones, a food server at Johnny Carino’s and sophomore marketing major from Celina, said “country Italian” describes the atmosphere-the napkins and chairs and other features of the restaurant do not all match each other, giving it a more informal environment.
“We try to make it like grandma’s house,” Jones said.
Janine Watson, junior elementary education major from Abilene, said the atmosphere made eating at Johnny Carino’s an enjoyable experience.
“I’d eaten at the Black-eyed Pea before and I really like how they redecorated it,” she said. “I loved the atmosphere; it was a good transformation.”
General manager John M. Sautter Jr. said “country Italian” explains the food as well, which is inspired by all regions of Italy, not just Tuscany or Sicily like other popular Italian food restaurants.
According to the menu, “Johnny’s Country Italian means we offer authentic food like homemade lasagna, manicotti and meatballs… we bake our own bread…we bring real Italian food to you that was meant for sharing.”
Most of the common Italian entrees are represented on the menu, and customers who do not favor Italian food may choose a more Americanized meal: a sandwich, salad, pork chops, or rib eye steak.
Allison Haley, sophomore elementary education major from Frisco, said she enjoyed dining at Johnny Carino’s.
“The food is really good, the bread is good, and I would recommend the lasagna,” she said.
Most entrees and appetizers can be ordered in a single or grandioso quantity, meaning the portion size is large enough to feed two to three people, depending on the appetite. Because of these options, Jones said the restaurant is a good place to go on a date or with a group of friends.
The prices are reasonable to the portion size, and most people have enough food left over to take home, Sautter said. The average cost of lunch per person is $8.50 and dinner is $12.
Although the staff is still learning and the restaurant is still new, Sautter said the customer’s experience is important.
“We want to provide the best and do the best that we can,” he said.
Johnny Carino’s is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.