COOS BAY — I've been waiting for months for Little Italy to open for lunch.
When sports editor John Gunther and I started this lunchtime series earlier this year we made a list of places we had hoped to go. We've long since exhausted that list — except for Little Italy. I had it as one of my choices because I knew John hadn't been there before.
At the time, Little Italy wasn't open for lunch, but as the saying goes: Good things come to those who wait.
At the beginning of this month, Little Italy re-opened for lunch. Their lunch hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Gourmet pizzas are big on the Little Italy lunch menu. There are several gourmet pizzas — all are $12.95 — including the Italian Philly (shredded roast beef, mozzarella, green bell peppers, onions and beef au jus); and Maximo's favorite (zucchini, artichokes, Italian sausage, olive oil and parmesan).
They also have traditional pizzas, including the margarita (marinara sauce, mozzarella, sliced Roma tomato and olive oil), pepperoni, Italian sausage and a Hawaiian.
They also have a couple of sandwiches, a host of salads and pasta dishes, including the spaghetti and meatballs, fettuccine alfredo, tortellini di Angelo (this one is Autumn's favorite) and fettuccine chicken.
"The last time I was in this building, and I don't know how long ago that was," John said. "It was the House of Books. ... It's been a little while."
John and I didn't manage to get there during lunch hours on Friday, but we did have an early dinner during our long Friday night shifts.
John played it smart, and ordered something that was also on the lunch menu, getting the spaghetti and meatballs. My hunger got the best of me, and I ordered the Calzone Contadina.
I would find out later that my hunger wasn't nearly as big as that calzone.
The calzone is made with Italian sausage, meat balls, chicken breast and mozzarella.
John's spaghetti and meatballs came with three huge meatballs.
"I like getting spaghetti," John said, twirling some of the noodles with his fork. "You can eat it like a kid."
In sports terms, the meatballs were bigger than golf balls, but smaller than baseballs.
"The meatballs are big. Let's just go with that."
My calzone showed up, and I found myself with the same dilemma that John had faced on several of our early lunches.
"I don't know where to start," I said.
"It's about time you got one of those," he replied.
For those of you who remember the photos of our visits to Vinny's and Yeong's, you know what I mean.
I decided to cut my calzone in half as a place to start. I told John that I'd reassess if I could finish as I got closer to that cut.
"For reasons that are obvious," I said, "I've never left here hungry."
John dug into his spaghetti, but soon came to the same realization that I had.
"It's going to take a superhuman effort from me to NOT take home leftovers."
We both ended up with plenty to take home. Autumn and I made dinner the next night out of the half of the calzone I took home.
She enjoyed it as much as I had. And everyone liked the house-made Italian sausage.
Whether it is lunch time, or time for dinner, Little Italy should be one place that is on your go-to list.