Italio in Boca: a fast casual spot
Nov 28, 2012 (Sun Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Best reason to go: It's hard to believe no one has thought of this before: Italian fast food, created in an assembly line where patrons pick what they want to put in their dishes. Start with a pasta, a wrap called a piadina or a salad. Add protein such as steak or chicken, then pesto, tomato or Alfredo sauce, or a salad dressing. Additional toppings include chickpeas, pancetta and grated cheeses. You end up at the cashier and are surprised at the modest prices: $8 for a steak combination, $7 for chicken, $9 for shrimp, $8 for meatball or $7 for vegetarian.
For the kids: The kids' menu (for under age 10) includes spaghetti and meatballs ($4) and chicken Alfredo ($4) and comes with a drink. My teens went through the line and made their own combos. Pasta with chicken and tomato sauce was rich and comforting, served in an enormous paper bowl with plenty to take home for leftovers. My other teen made a salad that was fresh and crunchy with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette.
For the grown-ups: The Pick 2 offers two selections in smaller bowls for just $1 more. I got a salad and whole wheat pasta with sauteed vegetables in basil pesto sauce with grated cheese. I ate every bite, although it was cold by the time we made it through the line, got our utensils and drinks and sat down. For dessert, the cannoli ($2.95), served in a tiny plastic container and made with cream, chocolate chips and piadina chips, is just the right ending after a high-carb meal.
Atmosphere: Italio is filled with Florida Atlantic University students who can get quite noisy. There is also music playing in the background, and the many sounds made it difficult to communicate with the staff behind the thick glass when you are placing your order. But there is seating outside and it's a pleasure to sit in the cool weather and watch the cars zoom by on Federal Highway.
1658 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton
Hours: 10:45 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Credit cards: all major
Alcohol: beer and wine
Handicapped accessible: Yes
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