Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Friday; 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday; closed Sunday.
Price range: Pizza from $4.25 to $5.50; dinner from $4.25 to $11.95.
Reservations: Not taken, except for large parties.
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard.
Special facilities: Parking in front of restaurant; restaurant is accessible to wheelchairs if a small curb can be negotiated; highchairs and booster seats available. Pizza 'n' Pasta, Too, the sister establishment to Arlington's well-liked Pizza 'n' Pasta on Wilson Boulevard, is more than just a second thought.
When a restaurant expands, as Pizza 'n' Pasta did two years ago, it often is easier to overextend than to duplicate the character and quality offered in the primary location. But Too is an easy twin if not a complete clone of its original, even to the plain white exterior and simple lighted sign, which identifies each place.
Inside, Pizza 'n' Pasta, Too, has a large dining room dominated by a bar on the left and murals of the Italian countryside. There is a haphazard mix of contemporary chandeliers, plants and hanging wine bottles.
A large pasta machine sits against a wall by the kitchen and the espresso machine hisses every once in a while when a waiter produces a cup of brew. Italian music plays in the background when somebody remembers to put it on.
Children who spill food or drink will not harm the red-checked oilcloth covering the tables, and children who wander from their parents' sides don't seem to bother anybody.
The restaurant is an informal, neighborhood place for families of all sizes. And it serves good food.
A variety of homemade pastas--spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna, cannelloni, manicotti, linguine and fettuccine--is offered. Regular entrees--veal, calamari, chicken and sausage, among others--are served with either a salad or spaghetti. And the best part is that, except for the high-priced veal dishes, virtually everything is less than $6.50.
We had a hard time making up our minds, but finally settled on ravioli with meat sauce ($5.95); lasagna with meatballs ($6.25); cannelloni alla Bolognese ($6.50); chicken cacciatore ($6.50); and calamari alla marinara ($6.50). The girls' pasta dishes included no salad, so they nibbled our nice-sized servings of greens, tomatoes and delicious marinated carrots with a sharp, creamy Italian dressing, which was especially good.
Dinner arrived hot, without delay, and satisfied everybody. Sauces were uniformly good. The six large ravioli were tender and flavorful, smothered with a meaty sauce. Our teen-age daughter, experimenting with cannelloni, found its cheese, meat and spinach filling perfectly combined in a delightful casserole. The lasagna was similarly praiseworthy.
Calamari, served in a bowl because of its thinner sauce, might have benefited from a bit of pasta accompanying it, but it was tenderly cooked and good. My half-chicken, smothered in tomatoes, peppers and fresh mushrooms, also was carefully cooked and was a good buy at $6.50. It easily might have served two children's appetites.
For dessert there are the usual Italian specialties: spumoni, tortoni, creme caramel. Try instead the cappucino pie ($2.50), a light and delicious combination of chocolate crumb crust, coffee ice cream and cinnamon-flavored chocolate glaze. There also are freshly filled, delicious cannoli ($1.75 each).
Although Pizza 'n Pasta, Too, is not an exceptional restaurant, it is a good one, offering families better-than-average food in a relaxed setting. As either a first or second thought, chances are good you'll like Pizza 'n Pasta, Too.
Our bill for five, with tax and tip, was $48.73.