For this review we welcome a member of our own JRR family: Rhonda Kovar is a former call center manager turned stay-at-home mom. She grew up in the heart of North Carolina and moved to Florida after getting hitched in 2002. She is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University and a lover of all things crafty, musical, or edible. Rhonda loves finding new and delicious ways to turn her two tiny picky eaters into future foodies.
We’ve talked before about how great it is to have a few good, close-to-home, familiar dining spots that you can rely on when you just don’t want to cook dinner. Places that are comfortable and familiar, that serve up reasonably-priced, tasty food. Add Milano’s Italian Restaurant to your list of regular weeknight dining spots. With two locations (one at Kernan and Beach and the other on 3rd Street in Jacksonville Beach), Milano’s can be your “neighborhood pizza place” no matter where you are on this side of town.
On this trip, we visited the location at Kernan and Beach. We had heard good things about Milano’s from friends and family, but had yet to get around to dining there ourselves. The atmosphere is definitely casual, comfortable, and friendly. We could tell immediately that this would be a good kid-friendly spot. The bar area and big screen tv’s (along with their Thursday beer, wine, and pizza specials) also make it a fun hangout if you’re into sports or, well…beer. We arrived for an early dinner, so it was seat yourself. Since we had the kiddos with us, we picked a spot near the front by the door so as not to disturb other people. We didn’t feel out of place with the kids and the servers were all really attentive and helpful. Plus the food came out relatively quickly, which is always nice when you have impatient little ones in tow. Milano’s is a great place to take the whole family.
It’s also a great place to feed your whole family for a relatively small price tag. Their menu is pretty standard, basic Italian fare (we’ll get to our picks in just a second). What really surprised us about Milano’s was the portion size. Wow…lots of food. There was more than enough for all of us and we ended up taking a ton of food home with us for later. We started off with the Bruschetta ($5.99). We were expecting a small appetizer plate, so we were surprised when our server brought over three huge dishes…one with about ten slices of garlic, one with the bruschetta topping, and another with a big pile of breadsticks. So much bread! The bread was good and the bruschetta topping had a really nice basil and tomato flavor to it. The olives and tomatoes were a little chunky for our taste, but the flavor of the dish was great.
For the kids’ entree, we went with the Cheese Pizza off of their kids menu. For $5.99, this was a steal! Again, we were expecting a small serving…a personal-size pizza that our two kids could split. So imagine our surprise when our server brought over a 10-inch pizza to our table. I think one piece was eaten while we were actually there. We took the rest home for lunch the next day. It was good, basic thin crust cheese pizza.
For our other entrees, we ordered the Milano’s Salad ($8.99) and the Eggplant Parmigiana ($10.99). Both were good and very filling. The Milano’s Salad consists of spinach, tomatoes, onion, and mushrooms topped with turkey, bacon, and cheese and served with your choice of dressing. I picked the balsamic vinaigrette, which added a lot of flavor to this basic salad. Like the rest of our food, the Eggplant Parmigiana was good but still pretty standard. It was served with a heaping helping of spaghetti and marinara sauce, which also made it’s way home with us for lunch the next day.
I think for most people (or for our family, at least), Italian food is one of those cuisines that has become a pretty standard part of our diet. We eat a lot of pasta and pizza in our house. Because it’s so commonplace and familiar, we really have to be blown away by a dish to be able to say that it’s “really good” Italian food. Milano’s has good food, but it doesn’t seem to stray to far from what we consider to be standard, familiar-tasting Italian cuisine. It’s tasty, but there’s not a lot that’s unique or special about it. The really great thing about Milano’s is that you get a lot of food. So that makes it a perfect choice for family dining or for sharing a pizza with a group of friends and throwing back a few beers. Be sure to go on a Thursday for their $1 beer and $1 pizza slice specials!