420 W. Prien Lake Rd. • Lake Charles • 337-602-6224
I’d like to discuss two restaurants that were started in the Lafayette area. One is already here, and the other has an upcoming start date for construction. Both will be welcome additions to SWLA’s ever-growing food scene.
The first spot is our new pizza joint Pizza Artista, which is located in, of all places, the Prien Lake Mall. The location is eye-catching and brings a new look to the exterior of the mall. It has both indoor and outdoor seating.
On the evening when we made our first visit, we chose to sit outside for our dinner; it was cool and very enjoyable.
When you first walk in Pizza Artista, you are greeted by a friendly staff that takes your order as you walk in. You can order one of the signature pizzas or build your own from the large selection of ingredients.
We decided to pick one of the signature pizzas, as the place was getting very busy very fast, and I hate to hold up a line while I’m ordering. We ordered the Asian — Thai peanut sauce, mozzarella, chicken, green onions, carrot slivers, cilantro and crumbled peanuts and the Artista — red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, crumbled beef, Canadian bacon, onions, mushrooms, green bell pepper and black olives.
After you place your order, the staff ask you to stay with your pizza while they prepare it for the oven. This makes me feel good because there’s transparency in the process, and I have the feeling I’m making it with the cooks.
When they finish preparing the pizza, they present it to you for your approval before it ever touches the oven.
Now it seemed to take only six to seven minutes for the pizza to be finished. It was cooked perfectly; the crust was crisp, but not crunchy, and the toppings were the perfect temperature, so that you weren’t burning your mouth trying to get that first bite in.
Some of the Artista’s pizzas have the style of pizza you can get in just about any other pizza place. But that was OK, because it was still a delish pizza that you would be happy to eat any time.
Now the Asian was a different pizza all together. The Thai peanut sauce and the cilantro really made this pizza pop. Neither were flavors I’d ever had on a pizza. But trust me when I tell you this pizza will go into my list of go-to items. You can’t go wrong with it.
I’m very excited to go back again and see if I can build my own dream pizza.
I really like the fact that this pizza concept was made right here in Louisiana by Scott and Cynthia McClaskey and Kirk Miller, all of who come from an extensive pizza background, with Scott and Kirk each having more than 30 years’ experience in the pizza industry. They just started in Lafayette in 2015, so they must be doing something right to be opening their second location so soon. Welcome to Lake Charles; we’re thrilled to have you here.
COMING SOON TO SWLA: Romacelli Bistro e Vino
The second spot I want to talk about is Romacelli Bistro e Vino, which will soon be breaking ground on their first location outside the Lafayette area: the new village in the Morganfield development at the intersection of East McNeese and Corbina. This restaurant will be the first business located in the development, which will feature a summer concert series and walking tracks around ponds. It will offer people south of Lake Charles a new option for dinner close to their homes.
We ate at the location that sits inside River Ranch, and were able to have dinner with Don Trahan, a man who oversees the day-to-day development of the entire Morganfield project for Southern Lifestyles and Development. My understanding was that the new Romacelli should have the same warm neighborhood feeling as the location we were eating at. If that’s the case, I can see myself sitting outside, enjoying my nice dinner on a regular basis.
We started our meal with an order of Stuffed Meatballs — three jumbo homemade meatballs, stuffed with fresh mozzarella and smothered in classic marinara sauce. The meatballs were juicy and full of flavor, and the melted cheese we got with each bite was great. But the hearty house-made marinara really brought the dish together for me. The meatballs were rather large; we each got only one. But I don’t know whether I could have eaten two and finished the entire meal. As most of you know, Chelsea and I always order meals to share so we can get the most out of our dinners without feeling stuffed at the end.
We got the Steak Wedge Salad — Grilled Sirloin cooked to order served with a crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with creamy gorgonzola dressing, grape tomatoes, red onions, crispy bacon, candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and a balsamic reduction.
Let me tell you, that sirloin was cooked on point as well as having just so much seasoning that it didn’t take away from the flavor of the meat. The rest of the salad was just a great wedge that complemented the meat.
We also ordered the Oven-Roasted Chicken — Herb-roasted airline chicken breast topped with a portabella pancetta asiago cream sauce. Now, airline chicken breast is my favorite cut of chicken breast because it still has a bone in it. This breast keeps much more of the tenderness that I feel sometimes gets lost with boneless breasts.
The chicken had a nice crispness to the skin (BTW, my favorite thing is a crisp skin) and the asiago pancetta cream sauce was the BOMB.COM. I certainly see myself making this sauce soon for my wife because “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
I’m very much looking forward to the addition of Romacelli’s, and I’m very excited to see what the developers of River Ranch have planned for the Morganfield area. River Ranch started in the early 2000s, and in the short time since, it has become a mecca of development in the Lafayette area. The growth in the outlying areas has been nothing short of impressive. So I’m hoping they’ll work that same magic here.