It’s sure been a long time since I’ve written a post, huh? During that span of time I reconnected with my high school love, ran off to Louisville KY, got married, changed jobs, and started a Louisville restaurant blog called NewtoLou. I come back to West Virginia frequently, mostly because my girls are finishing school here, but also because I miss my friends, family, and my true home. You can take the girl out of West Virginia but you can’t take West Virginia out of the girl! (At least not THIS girl!) I’m sure all my new acquaintances are completely sick to death of hearing me wax poetic about the mountain state.
I have been suffering inner conflict. Should I tell you all about Muriale’s during football season or not? As you read my review will you come to understand just how perfect a plan it would be to include Muriale’s in your pregame (night game, that is) ritual and I don’t want to have to wait on a table as a result of sharing this great tip. But alas, I have a duty to the Fork You public and I will proceed.
As a mother, a wife, a victim of Pretend OCD, and a food fanatic, I have lots of rules and policies. Some of my rules include: 1) spread the shower curtain back over the length of the tub when you’re done; 2) you must be completely ready for school before you’re allowed to goof off in any way; and 3) check the order before pulling away from the dive thru. One very important policy is this: when traveling to Route 50 and points north, one must eat Italian. There are some great places in the Clarksburg area alone.
On our way to the WVU home opener last weekend, I was prepared to follow the policy. My husband took a little convincing. (I found out later he thought I was going to take him to some froo froo gourmet place.) (Is that how you spell “froo froo”? You know what I mean.) I successfully campaigned for Oliverio’s , my favorite in the area, and my mouth was already watering at the thought of pasta and pine nuts. We approached the parking lot and realized they don’t serve lunch on Saturdays. That’s fine for ordinary Saturdays but they are missing an opportunity on Night Game Saturdays. Just sayin’. My next most favorite is Muriale’s so we skipped the visit we planned to Mountaineer World (we honestly don’t need more WV gear) and headed on up I-79.
My husband had never been to Muriale’s before. Poor thing. He even grew up in Buckhannon! I was more than happy to accompany him on his virgin visit. We arrived around 1:30 and had no trouble obtaining a table. There are great old photographs on the walls and displays of wine, pasta, and oils. I quickly located a lunch special that was too good of a deal to pass up: you can choose from several pastas (ravioli, spaghetti, rigatoni, manicotti or linguine with fresh vegetables) and also receive a house salad and a slice of garlic cheese toast ALL FOR ONLY $10!! I would pay almost that much for a Wendy’s combo meal. We both chose the manicotti.
We were served a basket of bread and butter when the salads were delivered. The housemade Italian dressing was tangy and herbalicious. Husband chose the housemade balsamic and offered me a taste, which was also very good. Salad toppings included roasted red and yellow peppers, large marinated green olives, tomato, pickled onions, and shredded cheese.
Our lunch specials were so generously portioned we could barely eat it all. Well, I didn’t eat all of mine. I gave it my best effort but had to leave just a few bites, even after my husband had a little of my meatball. We received two large manicotti stuffed with an herb and ricotta cheese mixture generously covered in meat sauce and a large meatball. The meatball was a bonus I had not expected since there was no mention of it in the menu description. The meat sauce was richly and deeply flavored, and had obviously spent a good amount of time simmering. The pasta was delicate and the ricotta mixture flavorful. For me, I could have done with more ricotta to balance the richness of the sauce. Plus, I really like ricotta. The meatball was tender and well-seasoned. I wasn’t too crazy about the garlic cheese bread. I LOVE the garlic toast at Fazio’s and declare it is exactly how garlic toast should be made: crisp, almost dripping with butter, and significantly tasting of garlic. Muriale’s sprinkles the bread with some herbs and the oregano totally overpowered any taste of butter or garlic. I could do without the cheese on it, too.
This was a meal worthy of the Number One Foam Finger. What a great deal for fresh, homemade, delicious Italian fare. We were so satisfied from the meal, we didn’t even bother to grill the hot dogs we had packed for tailgating. I am going to the Oklahoma game next weekend with my daughters and hope to convince them that a pregame meal at Muriale’s is just what we need to fuel up for an evening of Mountaineer excitement. Another nice touch is that all the waitstaff wear WVU apparel on game day. It made us feel more comfortable coming in with our t-shirts and face stickers and also provided a festive atmosphere.
The service was excellent. Our water glasses never went below the half-full mark and the entire staff worked together seamlessly to meet every customer’s needs quickly and efficiently. Our server was friendly and fun.
Even though I now live in the big city of Louisville, there are just some things that can’t be done better than in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia: beautiful scenery, friendly people, an exciting college football atmosphere, and some great traditional Italian food. The quote of the day, from my husband, after devouring his meal and licking the bowl clean (as in the photo): “I don’t know why I even doubted you”.
Go to Muriale’s. Four forks.
1742 Fairmont Avenue
Fairmont, WV 26554