The Olive Garden - The Olive Garden provides food that is well above average for a chain restaurant. The San Remo seafood dip appetizer ($7), a blend of crab, shrimp and cheese with a small amount of chunky tomato marinara baked in a little cassoulet dish with thinly sliced bread, was rich and wonderful. The tortelloni di Fizzano ($10.75), a nice-sized bowl of big, fat tortellini filled with a ricotta cheese and spinach mixture, in a creamy beef and pork bolognese sauce had an appealingly rustic quality, with the pasta perhaps a bit past al dente. Service was pleasant, although our server could have demonstrated a better knowledge of the menu. And there was a long wait after our appetizer for the entrees. 221 N. Wall St. Call: 624-1853; In Coeur d'Alene: 525 Canfield Ave. Call: (208) 762-9300. (LM)
Toro Viejo - Coeur d'Alene's Toro Viejo is resplendent with bright wall murals, hanging plants, dark wood and rustic brick. The thoughtful lunch menu offers a good selection of dinner-y entrees at very reasonable prices. The complimentary chips and salsa made a fine appetizer. While the chips were unusual (but good), the salsa was terrific -- lively and flavorful with a big fiery kick. Combinations come with generous sides of refried beans (vegetarian refried beans are available upon request) and Spanish-style rice. I selected the No. 2 combination ($5.95) -- an enchilada with choice of filling and a tamale. The dish was fresh-tasting, well made and attractively presented, but a little tame. Good service is the rule. 117 N. 2nd, Coeur d'Alene. Call: 208-667-7676. (MC)
Mizuna - One doesn't have to be a vegetarian to appreciate Mizuna's inventive, fresh cuisine and cozy, intimate atmosphere. The restaurant began serving fish a little more than a year ago due to customers' requests. The roasted salmon with wild mushrooms ($18) was generous and oven-roasted to perfection, surrounded by an outstanding portobello red wine reduction. The Indian samosa ($14.50) consisted of a beautiful pastry pocket criss-crossed with asparagus spears and filled with a heavenly melange of Yukon gold potatoes, seitan, fennel bulb, onion, garlic and ginger atop a rich yellow pepper sauce. The accompanying eggplant relish and coconut-cilantro-mint chutney were wonderful. 214 N. Howard. Call: 747-2004. (LM)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.