Meal at Sulphur eatery worth trip across river

By By Cliff Seiber / American Press

Joe’s Pizza and Pasta in Sulphur is neat, clean and unprepossessing on the outside and comfortably casual on the inside with

a full Italian menu, plain and fancy.

There are many chicken and seafood selections, along with meat, including veal. The building was first opened as an ice cream

parlor and later housed Chula Vista, a California-style Mexican eatery, for a number of years. Other incarnations appeared

in the intervening years.

My friend Marsha was early and waiting for me when I arrived at the appointed time, afraid she might get lost in the intricacies

of metro Sulphur traffic.

Hey, Lake Charles, it’s easy to reach,

straight north on Ruth Street from Interstate 10, across from Brookshire

Brothers supermarket.

In fact, one of the owners told us that a fair number of Lake

Charlesians find it worth the easy trip. Some were fans of the

Joe’s that operated in a jinxed location in Lake Charles for a

time, and some are just discovering the original in Sulphur.

I was cheerfully welcomed to the table

by a smiling and personable server and presented with delicious

Parmesan-dusted warm

rolls and plenty of butter. As a lover of good bread, that would

have been a sufficient meal for me, if only they were carb-free.

The bread went well with the spinach, artichoke and shrimp

appetizer we had ordered. I love spinach-artichoke dip, and the

shrimp harmonizes with it.

Marsha enjoyed the eggplant Parmesan, and I had lasagna. My favorite on the menu is Chicken Carchofini, sautéed chicken breast

with artichoke hearts in a white wine cream sauce. But for variety, I decided to change it up.

The marinara sauce was well-balanced,

not like some served at other restaurants where “more is better” seems

to be the philosophy:

Load it up with oregano and thyme and it will be superior. Joe’s

is a milder, less acidic sauce, more like the increasingly

popular pink sauce, a hybrid of marinara and Alfredo.

The pasta in my lasagna was light and tender — on the lighter side of al dente. It was meaty and with the cheeses that one

expects.

My guest picked angel hair to accompany her eggplant dish from the usual selection of pastas available with entrees. She also

complimented the sauce, the eggplant and the pasta.

The lunch began with a crisp garden salad with the usual selection of commercial dressings or, as Marsha chose, oil and vinegar.

On a return trip I had pizza with

Italian sausage, bell peppers, black olives and fresh tomatoes. It was

loaded with toppings,

including delightfully stringy mozzarella. The crust was golden

brown around the rim and on bottom but a little soft in the

middle, maybe from my selection of moistening vegetables. Half of a

10-inch made a satisfying lunch with part of dinner left

over.

The owners of this family-operated restaurant are proud natives of Palermo, Sicily, as the map of the island behind the cashier

counter indicates, and they bring a taste of their homeland to Sulphur.

If you go

• Joe’s Pizza and Pasta (and subs) is at 1601 Ruth St., Sulphur. Phone: 528-2560.

Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week.

Lunch specials range from $6.95 to

$7.99, and dinners start at $9.95 and top out at $13.95 for Veal

Marsala. Be sure to see

the Specialita della Casa on the back of the menu for such

delicacies as Chicken and Shrimp dello Chef and Linguini del Mar.

A recent Saturday-night off-the-menu special was an 8-ounce filet

mignon with a mushroom sauce and trimmings for $21.95.

Cocktails, a good selection of wines by the glass and beer.