By Bennett Fuson
When I found out that Monical’s Pizza was coming to Carmel, I was immeasurably excited. I had never graced the presence of this particular establishment (which is weird for me, since my passion for food and sizable girth often lead me to new eateries), but talking to those that had, Monical’s would “blow my mind.” After dining at Monical’s, I can definitely say my mind is blown, but not quite in the way I would have hoped.
To say I was disappointed by Monical’s is an understatement. Public opinion of those who had dined at the Fishers location led me to believe that Monical’s was the pinnacle of achievement in pizza creation. This is certainly a hard reputation to live down for any restaurant, but the general consensus didn’t lie: Monical’s was good. This suited me fine, since I won’t eat anything but good food.
My first impression of Monical’s was that it was…bland. There were a lot of TVs (on the wall, in the booth), but not much else. Beige walls and brown floors have the potential to be aesthetically pleasing, but it takes a long shot. The only positive aspect of the décor was the mini-flatscreen TV in each booth, enabling me to finally read the ticker along the bottom edge of ESPN’s SportsCenter. Yet even this was flawed, since the channels couldn’t be changed, forcing customers to watch and rewatch Terrell Owens over and over and over again.
But no one chooses a restaurant due to its television options, so let’s focus our attention on the food. Monical’s offers a standard variety of dining options, from salads to sandwiches and the titular pizza. Monical’s also offers a lunch buffet, allowing diners to experience breadsticks, salad and pizza for $6.50. Since this allowed for the greatest variety on a budget, I decided to pursue this option. The only positive aspect was the price; otherwise, I probably would have asked for my money back. The salad was nothing to brag about: a bowl with shreds of iceberg lettuce with some sad-looking vegetables on top doesn’t create, in my mind, an ideal appetizer, especially when the waitress brings out a gross plastic bottle of dressing and essentially says, “Do it yourself.”
The pizza, the rock on which the restaurant is settled, is no great shakes either. The thin crust dough is, for lack of a better word, flimsy. I tried to pick up a piece of pepperoni pizza, and it collapsed under its own weight. This would be reconcilable if there was a fair amount of toppings on the pizza, but a thin layer of sauce and even thinner layer of cheese are not catalysts for the effects of gravity on dough. The taste of the pizza wasn’t of any note either. It honestly seemed like the pizza was purchased in the frozen foods section of the Meijer across the street and reheated. The pan pizza was able to maintain its weight and had a slightly fresher taste, but to call it good would be stretching the truth. There was simply too much dough (which was dense and had a distinct lack of taste) and too few of everything else.
By far the worst menu item is the breadsticks. I’ve had bad breadsticks before, but these are a new level of low quality. The dough was spongy and tasted accordingly, which would have been aided if the sticks actually looked like they were cooked. The accompanying marinara dipping sauce was decent, but the breadsticks absorbed way too much of the sauce (probably due to the sponge-like traits), so a bit of tomato-overload ensued. For “flavor,” the breadsticks sported large salt cubes. (To say grains would be an understatement. I’ve seen deer lick smaller cubes of salt). This was by far one of the worst things I’ve ever had, and I still feel a little bit nauseous thinking about it.
The food was poor, but it would have been easy to forgive and forget if the service had been exceptional. Alas, it was not. The table I was seated at had a leak in the wall, and when I directed my waitress to the problem, instead of redirecting us to another table, she simply looked at me, shrugged and said, “Sorry.” My dining mates and I had to switch tables on our own, without the aid or sympathies of the staff. No amount of quality food can resurrect this death knoll, and this alone was probably the most disappointing aspect about the restaurant. Food can be redeemed; poor service cannot.
As excited as I was about Monical’s Pizza, I can honestly say that now, with 20/20 hindsight, I would have never eaten there. With as much excitement as I had for Monical’s, I can only look back now and sigh. Lesson learned.
Address: 12501 N. Meridian St., Carmel, IN 46032
Price: $8 to $20