Bites Nearby: Grazie Restaurant & Event Center
Great food, good service, good wine: Get in there and eat!
Overview: Grazie is located in the Oxford Athletic Club in Wexford. Once part of the North Park Lounge chain of restaurants, it is now privately owned. There is also a Cabana Bar on the athletic club premises, adjacent to Grazie, which is still part of the North Park Lounge group. It's an over-21 bar with just a few food choices. The Cabana Bar is right next to a large, outdoor pool.
Grazie is Italian-themed, but there is a wide variety of food on the menu. The menu is a work in progress and is not online at this time. Based upon the signs we saw, the theme of the restaurant seems to be, "Get in here and eat!" Just like home.
We were there on a Sunday evening and it was not busy in the indoor dining area. However, the large, outdoor seating area was very busy.
The restaurant is in the process of changing dining space. Their former bar area is now the restaurant, and the larger, former restaurant space is reserved for private parties.
Décor: The restaurant is clean but the décor is more bar-like than Italian restaurant. There are TVs everywhere. The tables are wooden and the candles are fake, somehow lit from within, which I thought was odd, until later when I saw a very young girl pounding her candle on the table and thought, "Good idea!"
The Drinks: There is a full bar, including an extensive selection of beers on tap. Grazie does not have a wine list, per se, since the menu is still in progress, but our excellent waitress was able to tell us about the wines off the top of her head. We enjoyed the Marcus James wines with our dinner, both the Chardonnay and the Cabernet. They also serve Pepsi products.
Appetizers: The appetizer menu has fare that is definitely recognizable from Grazie's former North Park ownership, including Lounge Fries. Appetizers range from $4.99 to $9.79 and include Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato Skewers, Chips and Salsa, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, and a number of other selections. We had the Chilled Spinach Dip which was fabulous -- chunky, oniony, garlicky and addictive.
Entrees: I can't say enough superlative things about our entrees. Two of us opted for Italian: Maryland Blue Crab Ravioli in Old Bay Cream Sauce for me, Linguini a la Grazie for my husband. Both were absolutely delicious. There are a number of other pasta entrees as well, ranging from $11.99 to $14.99.
As good as our pastas were, my daughter's dinner stole the show. She ordered one of the gourmet burgers, the Pigeon Burger, which is two grilled cheese sandwiches wrapped around a burger with bacon, lettuce, tomato and grilled onions. Oh. My. Goodness. It was pure burger happiness. It was served with kettle chips and they were excellent as well. I'm going back just to have that again. Although I might even try the Peanut Butter and Bacon Burger or any of their other gourmet burger selections that range from $7.49 to $11.99.
Other entrees range from $10.99 to $17 and include crab cakes, a chicken tenderloin meal and crab-stuffed cod. There are three gourmet pizzas and a number of dinner-sized salads. They also have gourmet sandwiches ranging from $7.49 to $10.99. The grilled cheese, in particular, sounded very interesting and is on our list for our next visit. The prices on all are very reasonable.
Desserts: We were so stuffed we were afraid we were going to have to get one of the athletes from the Oxford Club down below assiduously working out to roll us out of there, so we opted out of dessert. But the restaurant has an extensive selection, including a brownie sundae, peach pie, carrot cake and cheesecake.
Service: The service is as good as the food. Our waitress was terrific. She not only handled the bartender duties, she was the only waitress in the indoor restaurant, although there were other people who were helping to serve. She was efficient, friendly and knowledgeable. Plus she had dimples. She could give lessons to waitresses everywhere on how to make customers happy.
Conclusion: I whine about bad food and poor service all the time. This was a practically perfect restaurant experience in every way. The location is a little off-putting, in what is, in essence, a gym. But they have great food, great service and great prices. Get in there and eat, indeed!
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Address: 100 Village Club Drive, Wexford. Tel: 724-934-7880