Johnny Carino’s brings great food and great atmosphere to Sioux Falls

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

If you like Italian food, but you can’t stand the high prices in restaurants like the Olive Garden, Sioux Falls has some good news for you. At the new Johnny Carino’s Country Italian Restauraunt, two people can now eat five delicious Italian courses for $55.

Because my sister, Tonya, is a big Italian fan, and since I am sick of the pretension and expense of the Olive Garden, we decided to check out Johnny’s a few weeks ago.

Luckily for me, Tonya liked Johnny’s, and now I may never have to go to the Olive Garden again.

We started our meal with drinks. The waitress recommended a blended Peach Bellini. We also tried the sangria, a mix of wine and fruit juice.

Each drink had prominent red wine flavors and the neither was very sweet. Those who don’t like wine probably won’t like either drink. If you want something on the sweeter side I recommenda blackberry italian cream sodas.

While examining our drinks we were served a loaf of hot bread and a small plate of roasted garlic mixed with oilive oil to dip the bread into.

The bread was a nice contrast between a chewy center and a crusty outside. Having never before dipped bread into olive oil and garlic, I found the flavors interesting, but rather mild.

For an appetizer we chose stuffed mushrooms, which were quite a surprise. They were stuffed with spinach and onions and bathed in a cheese and tomato sauce. I wish they had been saltier, but they were still great.

For course three I chose a house salad with ranch dressing and my sister chose a house salad with the Johnny’s Chianti dressing. Even though I am a big ranch fan I liked the Chianti dressing better.

For her main course Tonya chose manicotti with tomato sauce and I chose the chef’s recommended tortellini a la vodka.

Manicotti is an old standby in Italian but Johnny’s manicotti was far from standard. The tomato sauce was full-flavored and the entire entr