We love finding locally owned, hole in the wall type establishments for dinner. It is kind of like a gastric treasure hunt. A few years ago we started going to Lavoro's, an Italian restaurant on Sycamore View and Summer in Memphis. We don't get to go as much as we'd like because of how far out it is (can we get a little Midtown love, Lavoro's?) but when we do, it is always spot on.
Lavoro's bills itself as "fine Italian dining" per their website (which needs a bit of updating) but really they might need some brand management because they seem to be having an identity crisis. The great thing about Lavoro's, which truly should be their identity, is that they are like an Italian restaurant you'd find on a busy neighborhood corner in a large city, only they are in what appears to be an old Taco Bell or KFC on a busy suburban intersection. When you go in, Big Mike (the owner) smiles and greets you. The patrons know their waitress, Mel, by name and catch up with her. They have sports memorabilia on the wall from Big Mike's coaching days. I really feel they should bill themselves as the neighborhood Italian spot (and selfishly I say they should move to Midtown but that isn't going to happen).
On this particular visit, we got cheese sticks as an appetizer (made in house - the breading was so good and the cheese was perfectly melted). The marinara is home-made too and was ridiculously good.
Our dinners came with bread and a salad. The caesar salad might not be much to look at, but their homemade dressing is one I could drink by the cup. But I won't. Because that is gross. I digress.
Their bread is also homemade (notice a trend?) and comes with a red-pepper infused oil dipping sauce. The bread is.so.good.
Main course - me, the spaghetti bolognese, Jake, the lasagna bolognese. We happen to be big fans of the bolognese sauce. It has a cinnamon undertone (just an FYI, my dad didn't like it) that I really like.
We didn't get dessert but Amy (Big Mike's daughter in law) makes them all in house. I'd recommend any of them. I love the fried raviolis, personally.
Lavoro's is one of those places that you can't help but cheer on and hope for success. You can tell it is a family business (their family law firm is even advertised on the back wall!) and that they love their Italian food and love serving their customers. The recipes are from family and are the real deal. Everything is home-made.
Now if they would just move to Midtown!
In pasta, bread, and cheese,
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