Dunaway’s Palazzo Ossigeno Restaurant

This was a birthday dinner, so we wanted to make it something special. After trying to finish our wedge salads, we really didn’t need to have dinner, but I ordered the quail. The accompanying goat cheese polenta alone was worth it, but the sauteed greens and the quali itself was wonderful (once you get past the fact that you’re eating teeny little birds). Chris chose Arrogant Bastard Ale (partly because it was fun to order, and partly because it was really, really good) and the pistachio-crusted chicken, which he also enjoyed immensely. We can only image how good the creme brulee must be, because the couple next to us seemed to enjoy theirs quite a bit. The decor, the service and the food were all high quality, and even though we were seated way too close to other diners to feel like we were having an intimate and romantic dinner, we still enjoyed the meal.

The Jazz Kitchen

Known for lots of live music, this local establishment is a nightclub and a restaurant. Recalling my first and only visit a couple of years ago, I remember fun jazz, pretty good ceviche, and lots of smoke. Since the time of our visit, The Jazz Kitchen has added a lovely patio and a corral to hide the lineup of dumpsters, both of which tremendously clean up the appearance of one of our favorite corners in town, 54th and College. The Jazz Kitchen also now caters to those patrons who prefer smoke-free nights; call or check the schedule on their website for your options. These recent changes warrant the venue a second look. 21 and over only.

Mezza Luna

We returned here recently after more than two years, and it seems to have gotten even better. Last time I remember having The Chip…so good (pasta in a smoky chipotle cream sauce) that it made that much of a lasting impression. This time I opted for the pasta primavera and the vegetables were just crisp enough and the pasta had this foreign delicious sauce on it (butter, ha!) Chris went for his standard choice, eggplant parmesan. He enjoyed it, too (I think he might have wanted more cheese), and although I have a hard time with Italian restaurants that serve mashed potatoes, these were garlicky and nasty (good nasty) and delicious. Nasty, too, was the appetizer bread (although we came this close to ordering the calamari) and the side salad was pretty decent, expect for the typical Indiana tomatoes.

All in all, I’m glad we went back. It was warm and toasty (the fire was going), dark and romantic, and my Cosmopolitan gave me that fuzzy feeling that makes me want to play footsie under the table. Nice dinner.

Puccini’s Smiling Teeth

I’d heard so many good things from other people about this place; Chris has enjoyed it in the past and enjoyed his chicken marsala. They used sweet marsala, however, and the carmelization of the onions made it almost too sweet. Delicious, though. My pomodoro was average…nothing too special. It’s a shame I make myself order the “healthy” dishes and don’t let myself get something with multiple cheese or sausage. Everything smelled good and with the exception of the weird lady sitting at the booth next to us, everyone was very friendly and smily for a Tuesday night.

Illinois Street Food Emporium

This bustling neighborhood bakery and deli serves everything from healthy sprouts and tomatoes on grainy bread to tall mousse cakes with chocolate shavings resembling Beyoncés hair. The turkey, bacon, and avocado croissant was an instant favorite with us. Vegetable soup was hearty and perfect for a rainy day (and I bet it would have been good even if it had been sunny). While seemingly a perfect spot for a Sunday brunch, they unfortunately do not serve this meal. Whole desserts are available for take-out, however, so you can still get your fix.

Broad Ripple Brewpub

Grilled entrees and surprisingly decent pub fare, including Scotch eggs (read: hard-boiled eggs rolled in bacon and fried in fat…can you say heart attack in a convenient dumpling shape?). Beer brewed on premises is great on a summer evening. Even our Scottish friend enjoyed herself. She tried buffalo for the first time, Chris went for bangers and mash and I ended up with a veggie burger and veggie crisps (sweet potatoes and taro instead of regular potatoes makes for some nice variety). The Jenny-style pasta is very good as well, so this goes beyond standard burgers and fries.

Some Guys Pizza, Pasta, Grill

This busy, upbeat pizza and pasta restaurant lies at the east end of Broad Ripple. Their brick oven churns out perfectly-crusted (if you’re into the whole thin-crust thing) pizzas with toppings ranging from traditional to on pizza?! and pasta dishes frosted with gooey toasted mozzarella.

For all the times we’ve visited Some Guys and enjoyed multiple permutations of ravioli, tortellini, tomato-vodka sauce and such, we only recently tried the pizza, leaving that arena to Bazbeaux, Broad Ripple’s “other” gourmet pizza haven. We’re hooked now, and proud to declare that there the winner is not either restaurant, but the diners. Emily enjoyed the primavera pizza, but I found it slightly oiler than I would have preferred. We’ve heard the Thai chicken pizza is good as well, however I’m going to have to work up to that: I’m a pizza traditionalist. Only in the last few years have I opened my mind enough to accept anything but the thickest, deepest, sausagiest Chicago-style cholesterol-fest pizza.

Since their excellent pizza was a new experience for us, the pasta selections are obviously what has kept us coming back. I really can’t decide which they do better. If you’re lucky, you’ll visit on one of the rare days when they have lasagna available.

I love me a good wood oven. During our last visit, Emily and I announced to each other that our next house will have two such massive wood ovens: one in the kitchen, and one on the deck near the pool that friends and neighbors can use. This would be after we win the lottery, of course. Which in turn would be after we begin playing, and that is unlikely.

Some Guys serves good beer (Bell’s Oberon in the summer, Blue Moon, Peroni, etc), and wine, as well. The latter packs quite a punch if you haven’t eaten in the eight hours prior to your dining experience. Best to wait on that Roma bread (yeah, get the Roma bread. It’s garlicky nirvana) before getting too far through your Chianti.

Desserts aren’t to be missed, either. Tiramisu and carrot cake have finished off more than one pleasant meal in the past.

The wait staff is quite a bit friendlier and easy-going than average, though they do stay quite busy in the confines of the densely-packed restaurant. This is a restaurant we would happily recommend to all walks of life for any happy occasion.

Santorini Greek Kitchen

Boisterous, jovial, family restaurant. Traditional Greek favorites appear, as well as some fun creative dishes (saganaki shrimp was yummy). Located near Fountain Square, you can work off your baklava by going duckpin bowling or swing dancing afterwards.

El Morocco

So much more than a restaurant, El Morocco provides a true culinary immersion experience. Make sure to pencil in at least three hours for dinner, because each one of your five courses is delivered with plenty of time to digest in between. The pita bread is served with a variety of vegetable spreads including roasted green peppers, eggplant, and onion relish), and the soup is served (like the rest of the meal) without utensils of any kind. when you get to course #3, we suggest you go for the fruit tart (rather than the chicken and eggs). We tried a vegetarian dish of chick peas, roasted vegetables, and cous cous. We liked it. A lot. Dessert was baklavah and fresh fruit, a light and delicious end to a long and enjoyable dinner. We tried both red and a white Moroccan wines, but avoid the mint tea, which, although authentic and served with the cutest little potholder, tasted like hot bong water. Everything else was superb, and even if the belly dancer wouldn’t leave my husband alone, we’d still return.

Acapulco Joe’s

This is a popular downtown institution. Legend has it that Joe took a bus from the border intending to go to Minneapolis, but instead boarded the bus to the similar-sounding Indianapolis, and stayed put once he arrived. Whatever the details, it’s a pretty good place to meet after work.

Salsa comes in ketchup-style squeeze bottles, so creepy double-dipping party members are not a problem, if you’re the compulsive type. Christopher’s two favorite Mexican “indicator dishes,” as he calls them, may not be quite what one would normally expect: the chile rellenos are actually jalapeños (rather than the more common poblano), and the tamales are large, moist, and served unwrapped. And the margaritas are good.

Open Sundays for Colts games only.