A Slice of Fried Gold

General Bracket #2: (4) Villa Nova vs. (5) New Cauldron

Monday, March 15, 2010
This matchup is about as disparate as two you can get. You have Villa Nova, an Italian restaurant ideal for big group togethers or dates, and then you have New Cauldron, a forgotten restaurant that is uniformly awesome and oddly charming. Two restaurants that are easily forgotten in the mix of restaurants across the city, and two that should never be forgotten.

Villa Nova: Villa Nova...oh how I love you. I've went here with my family, I've went here with friends, I've taken dates here...you name it. This place is a remarkably charming place that serves some of the best Italian food and steaks in town, and it has an incredible wine selection. I mean, this place is good. That's right...it deserves bolding.

Every experience I've had there has been transcendant, always standing out for one reason or another. In fact, the last time I went there was just with my mom and I could not decide what wine I wanted. Instead of just telling me about what they were, the waitress walked me through the menu, helped me whittle it down to three, then basically poured me three full glasses and said "pick your favorite and we'll go from there." She charged me for exactly zero of them. If I did that at Marx Brothers the waitress would likely accuse me of theft and I'd probably end up in jail.

The service and atmosphere are insurmountably impressive to me, reaching the peak of those categories in this competition for me. The food is excellent...in short...I love this place. If only it wasn't in the most random and sketchy location ever.

New Cauldron: This is my sneaky favorite lunch spot. My mom and I have been coming here for years, and we've went from eating pretty much entirely by ourselves when we started to eating in a packed restaurant. The difference between now and 2002 is insane, as every lunch day is now packed. It's totally worth it too, because they have some incredible food that is also often quite healthy. My favorite dish is their teriyaki chicken plate that comes with brown rice and steamed broccoli - really healthy, really tasty, and moderately priced.

They also feature one of the best Club House sandwiches I have ever eaten. Scratch that, it is the best I have ever eaten. While it should come with a complimentary replacement heart, it is epic in its deliciousness. Their salads are almost enormous and dense with all of the good things you want in them, and perhaps the most "worth it" salads you will ever find.

Not only are those positives huge, but they also have some of the most personable service ever. Our waitress doesn't give us menus, comes by and confirms our meals (we have a few rotating choices), and then she hooks us up shortly thereafter. It works like clockwork. It's pretty incredible.

The Showdown: Two restaurants with very few negatives and tons of huge positives, militant followings, and oddly poor locations. These are as close of competitors as you can get. However, here is where the difference is: there is simply more potential for delicious and more options from Villa Nova. They both do what they do about as well as anyone does in town, but when you get down to it the 'Nova comes out on top in a squeaker like this past week's West Virginia/Cincinnati game.


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