Owner Rick Gratch caught himself calling Caffe Pranzo a "hole in the wall" Italian restaurant, but he's not wrong. It just happens to be a very nice hole in a very nice wall, which is why customers have been coming back to the restaurant for 14 years.
Inside the building, there's an authentic charm that's very relaxing. The walls are covered with works from local artist Ann Shaw and while there are decorations, it's not crammed full of knick-knacks — an easy way to distinguish the restaurant from some anonymous Italian chain. There's nothing pretentious about Caffe Pranzo, which is just how Gratch likes it.
"We're not trying to be real fancy," he said. "We don't do a lot of nouveau cuisine, just classic Italian dishes."
Gratch said Pranzo's chef has been there almost as long as the restaurant, which means consistent quality for patrons. Customers fast become family at Pranzo, where they are happy to make changes to the menu to satisfy anybody with allergies or particular tastes.
"We have a lot of repeat customers who have been coming here since we opened," he said. "We try to work with their dietary concerns to make sure everybody gets a good meal."
The restaurant is an all-purpose spot for Italian food. Whether you're on a date, talking business or bringing the family, it's a great place to eat.
Pranzo boasts a menu filled with Italian staples. Starters include baked cheese bread, fried calamari and bruschetta. French onion soup is always available, as well as a soup of the day made fresh daily.
Gratch said the veal dishes — including veal picatta, veal parmigiana and veal marsala — are especially popular, as is the selection of grilled seafood. And customers love to eat (and kids love to watch) pizzas made the old-fashioned way — hand-tossed in the air.
Another specialty is the cheesecake, shipped directly from the world-famous Carnegie Deli in New York City.
"It's the best cheesecake there is," Gratch said.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday
5 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Closed on Sunday