Joe's Ravioli is not your typical hole-in-the-wall. Yes, the place is tiny; our group of 10 nearly filled the place up. But immediately upon entering Joe's, you sense the family atmosphere, the time and thought put into every dish and the desire to please everyone who comes through the doors. The walls are warm and filled with paintings, the lighting is dim and romantic.
With their newfound fame, Joe's is going through some growing pains right now. When the menu says, "Please be patient, all of our orders are made to order," they mean it. They also order only what they think they need that night - several items we tried to order had run out already, on a Saturday night at 6:30. Our advice: stay flexible, come in pairs, and Bring Your Own Bag. Joe's doesn't have its liquor license yet, so you are more than welcome to bring your own libations.
Though the ravioli is not made on premises, Joe orders them handmade from New York, his hometown. The lobster ravioli had a lovely al dente texture on the outside and was stuffed with ricotta and creamy lobster on the inside. After appetizers of fried ravioli and stuffed mushrooms, the entre was more than we could eat. The leftover lobster ravioli was fantastic when reheated.
An odd little bonus in my ravioli: a chunk of shredded pork. Another diner at our table found the same thing at the bottom of his pasta with vodka sauce, so we figured that pork must be the basis for the pasta sauces. Vegetarians and pork-allergic diners, beware.
The aforementioned vodka cream sauce that we had may have been from the bottom of the pot. Its texture was too thick, its flavor was only OK, and it wasn't any better than the same sauce we make at home. The veal had by another diner in our group was not to his liking either.
That said, let's get to the best stuff: dessert. Isn't it always? The adults in our group didn't get to try the homemade New York cheesecake because the hyenas at the other end of the table got to it first - a good sign that it must be fantastic. The adult end of the table got the tiramisu, which was the highlight of the evening. It was messy, rich but light, and downright sinful.
Other items from the menu to try: baked ziti, spinach ravioli, chicken Parmigiana, chicken or veal Marsala, and chicken or veal Francese, each for between $10-$14. All entrees come with a choice of vegetable, pasta or potato croquette (no available on our visit). Children choose from spaghetti, ravioli and chicken strips with vegetables, between $6-$6.50. House and Caesar salads also are available for under $8, adding chicken or shrimp for about $4 more.
My advice is to wait about one more month before you visit Joe's Ravioli. Let them work out the kinks, wear out the new hype and get their alcohol license. You'll have a wonderful, comfortable, affordable evening out.
3975 Arkwright Road
Hours: 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m.Tuesday-Thursday, and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Payment: Cash, credit card
Children's menu: Yes
Vegetarian selections: Yes
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Noise level: Low
Health code: 100
Price range: $6-$13.75
On the Web: www.joesravioli.com