No, it is not a hard-to-find restaurant, but a 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 discover what restaurant was reviewed last time? It was Mama Mia’s Italian Ristorante, at 48 West Edwardsville Road in Wood River. Reopened after a devastating fire, it has come back stronger than before. I was there for breakfast a few days ago, and some art is coming back on the walls. There are boards with the specials now, and the senior specials are really a great deal for anyone over a certain age!
Today’s review is on a staple of my hometown. One could walk in and get a hot meal without spending a lot. It moved to a larger location years ago, but the food never changed. When I walked in, the first thing I saw was a long line. This is not a well-kept secret! When I got up to the counter, there is a large menu board, easily viewed in the kitchen area, and a smaller sign with specials by the counter.
Our orders were taken in a businesslike manner by an efficient clerk, who never seemed to get flustered or mixed up. She placed to order on the counter, called out the contents, and a customer would detach himself from the knot of people waiting, pay, and take the bag of food.
I chose a double cheeseburger and fries, with a side order of funnel cake sticks. My friend ordered a box of chicken with fries included. While waiting for our order I took a moment to use the restroom. It is a small unisex bathroom. Between the toilet and the waste can, there is barely room to sit. I panicked for a minute when I couldn’t find the toilet paper, but it was mounted on the side of the sink cabinet. There was no mirror.
When we picked up our order, I was asked if I wanted a receipt. Of course, I did, but it only told what I paid. It was not itemized. I was forced to do math to check the total. When I did, I found that it was correct to the penny, but I still would have liked an itemized receipt.
The dining room seemed to be freshly painted. There were many booths and tables, with a flat-screen TV in one corner on the wall. Over the door there is a thin wire hanging down. At first glance, I thought it was a cobweb, but it was only a wire. Even so, it was a bit unsettling.
The food was good, and just as I remembered it. I was given a tiny tub of something white. When I finally opened it, I discovered it was powdered sugar for the funnel cake sticks.
The floor near the counter is worn through to the backing, but good everywhere else. I can’t imagine how many people stand there in any given week.
Cleanliness – four stars
Food – four and a half stars
Overall – four stars
Are you able to recognize this restaurant? Check the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner