UPDATE - The Food Network show "Restaurant: Impossible" is remaking Old World Italian! Check it out HERE.
By Becky Billingsley
Thursday, July 26, 2012, Murrells Inlet – For years locals have been telling me to try Old World Italian restaurant in Murrells Inlet, but when I did, I was not especially impressed.
My husband, son and a good friend all went there for the first time on July 24. We had reservations for 6:15 p.m. and were seated promptly. The foyer has brilliantly scarlet red velvet furniture, and dining room furnishings are modest.
The chairs are not comfortable; the backs are too low. I am not a tall person, but even for me the plastic laminated backrest did not hit me in a comfortable spot so I could relax.
The music was the best part of our visit. We heard vintage Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and the like.
Our server was experienced and efficient, and she described the night’s specials with flair. We all ended up ordering specials, and only one of them ended up being a decent value.
We started with a Bruschetta Pizza appetizer ($7.50), which was a thin personal-size pizza crust topped with tomatoes and mozzarella. It was okay, barely, but it wasn’t presented attractively – all you could see was a sheet of melted mozzarella on top, and it wasn’t bubbly or browned. It was cut in four wedges, so we each got one. Also, the crust was burned.
We shared a bottle of Clos du Bois Chardonnay, which was $27. Normally we choose red wine, but it was warm inside the restaurant, so we went with something chilled.
My husband and our friend ordered the Seafood Alfredo special for $29 each. The friend said it was “all right,” but commented that the dish smelled like old gym socks, while our son described it as low tide. It did have an odd odor, sort of like extra-pungent Parmesan cheese, but not in a good way.
Although it was called “seafood” Alfredo, the only seafood any of us recognized was six medium-size shrimp and a bit of crab in the sauce. The angel hair pasta was clumped together.
I was wavering between Gnocchi from the menu for $14 or the Seafood Cannelloni special for $27. The server assured me the special was worth the price, and that it was filled with delicious seafood.
I was envisioning the pasta tubes would be filled with plump morsels of scallops, crab and shrimp.
What I got was two cannelloni on a bed of chopped spinach and vegetables that were filled with a seafood puree and topped with mozzarella, in a pink sauce. I did find a couple of tiny popcorn-size shrimp in there.
Our son also ordered a special, and his dish was the best. It was called Chicken Capri, and it was $19. Two chicken breasts were pounded and stuffed with prosciutto, mascarpone cheese and mozzarella, rolled up and deep-fried, and served with mushrooms and marsala sauce.
We also ordered Spaghetti and Meatballs to take home to our other son, and for $13 we received spaghetti noodles topped with a ladleful of marinara and two golf ball-sized meatballs.
All the entrees came with house salads, which were not impressive; small plates with a handful of Romaine topped with one Roma tomato slice, one cucumber slice and one tiny ring of red onion. A basket of bread was on the table – it was a skinny loaf of crusty Italian bread with tiny slices.
I would tell you about the rest of the menu, but although I asked the server for a paper copy of the menu, she didn’t bring one. The restaurant doesn’t have a Web site, and its Facebook page does not offer much information.
Our bill, not including the tip, was $163.49 for one appetizer, one bottle of wine and five entrees. We wouldn’t mind paying that if we thought we received value for our money.
I have heard other people mention early dining specials, and perhaps those are worth the price. However, while we didn’t let the experience dampen our enthusiasm for enjoying a fun evening with a good friend, our family doesn’t want to make a return visit.
Old World Italian is at 3850 U.S. 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet, and the number is (843) 357-3494. It opens Tuesdays through Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.