What is there to do in Huntsville on a cold winter night? Right after you went skating in Arrowhead on their fire-lit 1.5km trail? Why not go and have some genuine Italian cuisine at a reasonable price… that is what we did on a Saturday evening.
Not easy to miss, That Little Place by the Lights was in front of us driving through Main street Huntsville. In addition, our lovely AirBnB host recommended the restaurant. A lot of businesses are closed for the winter season, by the way. However, Little Place was open and buzzing. For some reason, we assumed it is a Thai place the first time we saw it when entering the city. The interior and exterior are rather simple, appears that Little Place has been at this spot for some time. A bit dated, light colored wood and generic tile finish did not drive away the crowd – a testament to good food and reputation being the ultimate magnets, not the flashy appearance.
Anna, the restaurant manager walked us to our table in the back, passing by a louder conversation in either Portuguese or Italian. Our table was next to picturesque prints of the Mediterranean on the walls. Our waiter, Tracy, was also very pleasant and responsive. We were made aware of the home-made lasagna and gnocchi upfront so our choice was already somewhat predetermined. At the same time, we did spend a few minutes poring over the menu - which we found unmemorable overall and with a few un-needed cheesy illustrations - most likely not touched by a passionate designer. Our choices were the above-mentioned Home-Made Lasagna as well as Linguini Puttanesca with anchovy and olives. Their wine choices were pretty limited, but reasonably priced.
We got our home-made pita-like bread with a side of olive oil a floating balsamic drops, some rosemary and something slightly spicy. The bread was warm and very soft, a great first impression! A store-bought budget baguette is quite an irritant for us even in decent Italian or French cuisine places. Not the case here, thumbs up for the fresh bread. As we looked around some more, we noticed some more wall art and a chalk board with today’s specials in the corridor. From it we leaned a curious fact - Italian Wedding Soup is Minestrone's real name.
Their wine choices To our surprise, our home-made lasagna had no veggies. Not really knowing how it should be, we asked our waitress and she confirmed the authenticity of the recipe. No veggies were meant to be there, no worries though – it was delicious and quite heavy. The layers were extra tender and melting in our months. Freshly grated parmesan enhanced the flavor further. The Linguini Puttanesca was very different and lighter - a great contrast. The pasta was a bit spicy with a slight smell of anchovy, plenty of olives and capers. Both dishes were a delight for a cold evening.
The Little Place by the Lights was full and folks were local - a great thing to see. It is always a pleasure to come to a seemingly low-key place like that and be part of its genuine Italian culture.