By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE - I recently dined at Pappa Louie's in Port St. Lucie, and felt right at home from the moment I walked through the door.
The owners have been in business for 23 years, starting the restaurant in 1989. The name Pappa Louie was what the owner's co-workers called him after his daughter was born.
Even though it was a weeknight, the restaurant was very busy. Despite the crowd, I was quickly escorted to a table. The brick walls inside the restaurant make you feel at home, and the large, comfortable chairs and tables allow diners to relax and easily talk to each other while looking over the menu.
Looking over at the large groups of people seated nearby, it is obvious this is a family friendly restaurant, with generations of residents coming back to enjoy the food and atmosphere.
While I was in the mood for a full dinner, I noticed the restaurant has a special offering a large pizza for $7.99 three nights a week. That, in addition to all the hot and cold sandwiches and entrees, gave me plenty to choose from.
I looked over the appetizers, which are homemade, but Pappa Louie's is known for its generous dinner portions, so I went right to the entrees.
It took me a moment to figure out what I wanted, because Pappa Louie's gives diners plenty of choices for their entrees. They offer chicken, veal and shrimp, all with a variety of sauces.
In addition, I could choose soup or salad, then the type of pasta I wanted. Finally, I could choose between garlic bread or garlic knots.
I ordered the chicken francese, which offered breaded chicken in a light white wine sauce. With an entrée, diners get a choice of soup or salad, as well as bread choice. I went with the house-made, potato leek soup and garlic knots.
The soup came out first, and judging by the taste, was a great preview to the coming meal.
The potato leek soup was creamy with lots of leeks, but the onion flavor wasn't overpowering at all. The thick soup had a nice potato flavor that balanced well against the leeks.
I'm glad I still had room for the main course, because I certainly needed it.
The portion of chicken francese took up an entire plate, with four pieces of lightly breaded chicken sitting in sauce, and garnished with lemon and parsley. My angel-hair pasta was served in a separate bowl and came lightly coated in the same white wine sauce. That also allowed me to put as much extra sauce on the pasta as I wished.
The chicken was fork tender and golden brown, and the breading held up very well against the light, flavorful sauce.
The garlic knots came drizzled in oil and Parmesan cheese. They were warm and not too garlicky, and the bite-size offerings were just right for scooping up extra sauce from my dinner. You will find yourself licking your fingers after each one.
Too full for dessert, I made a mental note to come back for their two-person portions of chocolate cake, tiramisu, cannoli, zeppoli, spumoni and cheesecake.
Pappa Louie's is located at 7240 S. Federal Highway in Port St. Lucie. It is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call (772) 340-3431.