By Audrey Bailey
Located directly in the center of downtown Carmel on West Main Street is a quaint, family-owned restaurant called Donatello’s. Specializing in Italian cuisine, Donatello’s offers authentic meals along with an intimate atmosphere. This newly opened establishment is one students should try and, hopefully, come to love.
When first walking through the doors, cloth-covered tables accompanied by maroon-painted walls greet visitors from the chill of Carmel winter weather. The entire atmosphere of the restaurant presents itself as incredibly intimate and personal. A table on the back decorated with bottles of wine, plates, silverware and other dining necessities reflect an Italian family gathering. As I was seated by a polite young gentleman, no time was wasted. Looking through the lunch menu everything sounded delicious. Perhaps the fact that I forgot lunch money that day added to the desire, but nonetheless, each meal listed sounded delectable as well as authentic. As I tried to decide between fettuccini alfredo, French pizza and tortellini Michelangelo, the waiter brought warm sourdough bread to awaken my taste buds. By then, the decision was made.
I decided to order the tortellini Michelangelo. Although the pronunciation was a little problematic, the meal to come proved all my efforts were worth it. The meal arrived quickly, within 15 minutes, and the first scent that presented itself was that of bacon. After that distraction, I glanced down at my plate and admired the presentation itself. The large tortellini pasta was drenched in a cream sauce accompanied by mushrooms and bacon. Trying each component, I found the cream sauce appealed the most. Perfectly seasoned and balanced, the cream sauce had a rich color and flavor. After tasting the sauce, I took a bite of the pasta itself. At first, the al dente pasta combined with the salty ricotta mixture inside proved to be a perfect combination. The only criticism I had, however, was in regard to the filling. While eating the dish, the saltiness seemed a little overwhelming. I felt the need to continually cleanse my palette with a glass of cold ice water. Although the salt content was beyond my preference, the first bite was extremely satisfying. The bacon also added a pleasant, unexpected smokiness to the dish. Overall, the meal was exactly what I had hoped for.
As for desserts, Donatello’s has several options, including the house specialty Italian cream cake. As the server explained this cake was his grandma’s recipe. In fact, her Italian cream cake had won state awards in Indiana. From that point on, I was convinced. Although stuffed from the tortellini Michelangelo, an opportunity to taste award winning Italian cream cake was a chance I was not going to forgo. The massive slice of vanilla cake did not disappoint, but this was not the everyday Betty Crocker vanilla cake. The cream cheese-frosted cake covered with coconut held its own. The moistness of the cake, the rich tang from the cream cheese frosting and, lastly, the crunch from the coconut made this one of the best cakes I have ever had. Only a couple minutes passed before the cake vanished. One side note, the price Donatello’s charges for its menu items is a little higher than high school students may be comfortable with about $10 to $15 for a typical lunch but the tortellini and the cake made it worth it.
Overall, Donatello’s offers exceptional authentic cuisine in an intimate setting. I hope to return soon in order to try more of what they offer. One aspect of my dining will always remain constant, however, and that is the Italian cream cake. Everyone should be willing to pay a little extra for a meal like the one I received at Donatello’s
• Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
• Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
• Saturday 5 to 10 p.m
• Closed on Sunday
• $15 to $25 for dinner
• $10 to $15 for lunch
• 9 W. Main St.
• Donatello’s first opened its doors Dec. 30
In Their Words:
• According to Donatello’s website
donatellositalian.com, Donatello’s is “a homage to dining in a classier time.”
• The restaurant’s motto is, “a classic never goes out of style.”
• Stay in the loop by following Donatello’s on Twitter @EatAtDonatellos