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 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. Entrees include your choice of a house salad or the soup of the day. 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) n
flavorful, but lacked a nice seared quality on the outside. The Outback Rack ($19), 14-ounces of New Zealand lamb was a better choice -- something at the center of the Outback hype machine worth the price of admission. The Cabernet sauce was mediocre but the meat was marvelously tender and flavorful. 5628 N. Division. Call: 484-6956. (LM)
Little Italy -- Little Italy features pastas, calzones, sandwiches, salads and soups, a nice selection of appetizers and terrific gourmet pizza (25 varieties). Prices are reasonable for pies of this stature and range from $14-$16 for a medium and from $17-$19 for a large. The Pizza Mediterraneo ($16), with olive oil, pesto sauce, mozzarella, green olives, artichoke hearts and feta cheese. It looked great when it arrived and tasted even better. The savory pesto was a subtle presence underneath the blanket of mozzarella and crumbled feta. The green olives and artichoke hearts contributed a salty, tangy zing. The penne pasta with Bolognese sauce ($8) was cooked al dente. The sauce was authentic, rich and well seasoned. 7458 N. Division. Call: 487-7777 (MC)
Tanglewood -- Tanglewood is a comfortable urban warren that is rustic and elegant in the same breath. Sandwiches, soups and salads are the stars of the lunch menu along with a trio of quesadillas (smoked salmon, southwest chicken and forest mushroom: $7.25 ea.) and an impressive selection of appetizers. Sandwiches come with choice of fries, cup of soup or side salad. The Napa Burger ($7.75) is a hand-pressed hamburger with grilled wild mushrooms, roasted red peppers, smoked Gouda cheese and a Cabernet wine sauce on a sourdough roll -- an inventive combination of flavors that saves the day. The service at Tanglewood was competent and efficient. 511 Sherman Ave., Cd'A Call: 208-667-8612. (MC)
Staccato's -- Good food served fast is what you'll get at Staccato's, right in the heart of downtown. Soups ($2.09 to $4.09), salads and sandwiches ($2.49 a half, $4.49 a whole) rule here. Soups rotate daily and include such intriguing concoctions as Irish Country Potato soup, Bourbon Street Gumbo, Campfire Basil chili and Southwestern Tamale stew. Standard combos include half a sandwich or "Lil' Caesar" salad with soup ($4.39), chili ($5.49) or stew ($6.49). On the day we visited, the daily special was a half sandwich, cup of soup and a soda for $4.99. Nice, cozy atmosphere, too. 821 W. Riverside. Call: 458-SOUP. (MC)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.