Sights, smells and tastes of La Trattoria are pure Italy

April 21, 2003|by E.T. MOORE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - While the view out the windows at La Trattoria Italian Eatery is unmistakably Martinsburg, inside the sights, the smells and, especially, the tastes are pure Italy.

Located along busy Edwin Miller Boulevard, the atmosphere inside the pleasantly decorated restaurant is calm and restful.

My two dining companions and I each ordered entrees, and each was prepared masterfully and quickly on a busy Friday evening.

My all-time favorite Italian meal is spaghetti with meatballs - I tend to order that nearly every time I go to an Italian restaurant. While that may seem boring, it has made me quite a connoisseur of that particular entree.

Except for at an oceanside restaurant in Virginia Beach, Va., I've had none better than at La Trattoria. The meatballs are fresh and spicy. The sauce is tangy, and the pasta is al dente - not too soft and not too hard.


Included with that spectacular $7.95 entree is a fresh garden salad, which was crisp, cold and served with the house balsamic vinaigrette ... on the side. The only problem with the salad was a sliced tomato with about as much taste as a picture of a tomato cut from a magazine.

Even the rolls at La Trattoria are worth mentioning since there are two types served abundantly with each meal - one a small crusty loaf still warm from the oven, the other is several strips of foccacia, an Italian bread baked with spicy tomato sauce topping.

The small loaves beg for real butter, and they are not disappointed. No margarine could do these rolls justice. The foccacia is always a pleaser.

One of my companions who likes to experiment discovered ravioli al panna a number of years ago. Since that discovery, her exploring days are over.

This dish consists of six huge pieces of ravioli filled with ricotta cheese, all swimming in a buttery-rich cream sauce. A lovely presentation, the only color on the plate is the fresh green garnish sprinkled on top.

My other companion also went for a favorite, lasagna, and wasn't disappointed either. Served in a deep bowl, the entree looked deceptively small but was nestled quite deep in the bowl.

A creamy ranch dressing on another crisp tossed salad rounded out that meal in fine style.

Both of those entrees were priced well under $10.

The service began pleasantly at the door and continued to sparkle as the server dealt quickly and pleasantly with our table and others with nary a slip.

After the meal, only one dessert was ordered - a slice of black forest cake.

When it arrived, three forks headed in its direction.

First, the cake was moist and rich. The filling was sinfully chocolatey, as was the perfect ganache on top. Simply put, it was worth every calorie.

It was a perfect end to a near-perfect evening.

Restaurant reviews are contributed bi-weekly by Herald-Mail writers, editors and freelancers alternating under the pseudonym E.T. Moore. For questions, call Lifestyle Editor Jake Womer at 301-733-5131, ext. 2340, or e-mail

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