Charleston Edition: Fazio's

By Candace Nelson - 8:00 AM

An institution in Charleston, I've heard many say that Fazio's is past its heyday. But that didn't deter me from wanting to check out this legend. And Italian? Yes, I say!

Luckily on this night, we made reservations. This place was beyond packed. It was prom or something in the area, and girls with frilly dresses were found en masse in the parking lot and waiting area. We pushed our way inside to tell the sweet woman at a single-person table with a hand-written notebook that we had reservations. She smiled politely then said it'll be a few minutes. We sat down, and I took in the decor. It was so crowded in there, I couldn't tell if they made it stuffy or the '70s wood paneling was holding too much hot air inside.

Yes, the decor looked like something out of a bad '70s or '80s movie, complete with overly designed carpeting and mirrored walls. And waiters in tuxes sans jackets. And you know what, I loved it. Why do you need to have a restaurant updated? You don't. If that food is still good, I'm all for it. We were seated after a few minutes of waiting, and, coincidentally, right up against a mirrored panel. So, I had myself for a dinner guest that night, as well. Plastic mats were on the table, alongside white cloth napkins - what a combo, eh? The waitress wasn't overly friendly, by any means, she sat down our menus, took our drink orders and headed to the back.

We were seated in one large room, but I believe there was another across the way. There wasn't much privacy - no dividers. Just a large room with tons of tables placed in. Some dividers would've helped break up the space some and give an illusion of privacy, but that's okay.

We were brought out some pimento cheese and crackers to start off with. I would've really loved if they were homemade crackers, but the cheese was nifty - smooth, but not potent. A nice little something to get my tastebuds working.

I looked over the menu for awhile and thought long and hard between two options: the manicotti or the sampler. The sampler had a few different things, but only one I was really interested in. And manicotti is noodles and cheese - yum! Manicotti won out. How can you pass up creamy, stringy ricotta cheese in a soft carb wrapper?

With our dishes, we were served salads. I was pretty impressed with this salad, as most of the time in these situations, you get a few leafs of lettuce and maybe a shred of carrot. This salad had some large chunks of tomato, cucumber, lots of croutons, crisp lettuce, and mine was drown in French dressing. I loved the dressing - tangy and yummy. But it was a little much. Maybe I'll ask for it on the side next time.

We were also blessed with a basket of buttery, garlicy bread. It was very tasty, but I tried to stave off the temptation because of the carb-induced coma I was about to encounter. But the bread had a crunchy crust and soft, buttery/garlic inside. My mouth is watering thinking about it.

Finally, our entrees came out piping hot. Two long manicotti rolls awaited me. At first bite, it was so hot, I didn't even taste anything. Try again. Okay, this time I got a taste. The marinara is chunky and tomato-y. It was thick, and the noodle was thin, oozing white ricotta cheese. It was tasty. It was hot, cheesey and hit every spot in my mouth that said "yum." What can I say, comfort all the way.

Grade: A
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