No, it is not a hard-to-find restaurant, but a new column for AdVantage News! Each week the Secret Diner will post a review of a River Bend eating establishment. The Secret Diner will not review chain or franchise restaurants, only privately owned ones. About the rating system: zero stars would mean avoid at all costs, one star is pretty bad, two stars is merely fair, three stars is OK, four stars is good, and five stars is perfect! Before posting a negative review, the Secret Diner will give the establishment a second chance at a different time of day. See if you can determine the name and location of the restaurant under review! The answer will appear in next week’s column.
Did you guess the restaurant reviewed last week? It was Princivalli’s Cafe at 602 E. Third St. in Alton. The Italian dishes are made from old family recipes, and celebrities from history and fiction adorn the walls. They have free wi-fi, and a statue of a fat baker stands by the front entrance.
My companion and I entered this restaurant in the middle of a thick snowstorm. I had tried to visit it several times, but always found it closed. This time, I was dismayed to see that it was only 20 minutes until closing time, but decided to go in anyway.
The hostess/server called out that we should sit anywhere, but did not bother to rise from her seat at the counter. After my companion and I removed our coats and sat down, she came over with flatware and menus. I had heard that the tilapia was very good, so I ordered it with black-eyed peas and baked apples as sides. My companion ordered a burger and chili.
I checked out the restrooms and liked what I saw. One was decorated with several framed pictures of little girls doing grown-up activities. The other one had a golf theme, with crossed golf clubs on one wall and a framed print on another. The square dining room had something to look at on every wall, and was big enough to accommodate a large crowd.
When the food was brought over, it was steaming hot and very good. The fish had crunchy breading and was very tasty. I had never had black-eyed peas as a side item before but found them quite enjoyable. The baked apples were downright yummy. My companion said the chili was delicious and the burger was fine. Two small packages of oyster crackers came with the chili. We only received the napkin our flatware was wrapped in. I wanted blackberry cobbler, but we did not want to hold up closing time, so we did not order dessert.
Our server and the cashier paid very little attention to us. The server was concentrating on a large box of what appeared to be cosmetics, and the cashier seemed to be intent on reading something that I could not see. Although several diners had left while we were eating, no one attempted to bus or clean the tables while we were there.
Toothpicks and mints were available at the counter, where I paid and we went back out into the snow.
Cleanliness - four stars
Food – five stars
Wait staff – two and a half stars
Overall - four stars
Are you able to recognize this spot with the great food and irregular hours of operation? Check the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner