When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, and you want to try some Italian food on the fly without burning a hole in your pocket, head to 1009 Monterey St. to Naples 10-09.

The new Southern Italian restaurant that took the place of Panolivo near Fremont Theatre serves affordable and tasty traditional and modern dishes in a romantic and spacious atmosphere.

At about 7:30 Friday evening, a grinning, accommodating hostess greeted my parents, roommate and me as we walked in the door, and she immediately led us to a table. We were handed menus right away, and as I scanned the three pages, I soon realized my decision would be a tough one.

I eat a fair share of Italian food and I usually can come to a quick decision when ordering – but this was different. There were several pasta dishes that enticed me, and they beckoned me even more as my eyes scanned over the low prices. I’m a big fan of sauce diversity, and several entrées gave me choices between pesto, marinara or cream, so obviously I had a dilemma. Everything sounded good, and that is an excellent sign.

While I was perusing the menu, a basket of warm Italian bread was placed on the table with a spread of olive tapenade mixed with parmesan cheese and olive oil. I had to contain myself from eating the whole basket in order to save room for the goodness to come.

My immediate contentment with the place progressed to sheer pleasure when the congenial waiter knelt down to my table’s level to list off the daily specials in detail. He came back several times throughout the meal to make sure all was well. It is so refreshing to have someone sincerely care about your dining experience, especially on a busy Friday night.

Although I could not reap the benefits, our waiter informed us that many local wines are served at Naples. My Diet Coke tasted great, though.

We first ordered a mozzarella stick appetizer. Rectangular slabs of fresh mozzarella cheese were covered with Italian seasoning and breadcrumbs, baked to gooey perfection and accompanied with a bath of marinara dipping sauce. The dish was around $5.

After confirming the taste quality with the waiter, I ordered the chicken piccata. Thin slices of chicken were covered with a lemon cream sauce and capers with a side of vegetables and alfredo-covered linguini, all for $12.

My father’s veal parmesan was fabulous. My mother ordered the seafood special – linguini pasta mixed with crab meat, scampi and scallops in a creamy tomato sauce. Although I usually don’t eat anything that swims, I enjoyed this dish for what it was. My roommate ordered the chicken saltimbocca special-baked, breaded chicken wrapped around melted provolone cheese, prosciutto and spinach. She was quite pleased, as was I when I tasted it.

For such low prices, the food proportions were generous to say the least. I ate a tremendous amount of food, yet my taste buds and my stomach were supremely satisfied as I left the restaurant.

The atmosphere is fun, the service is impeccable, the food is delicious and most importantly for college students, Naples is affordable. Go find someone to take on a date.

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