January 17, 2010

Doriolas

You know you've found a divine place to satisfy your palate when, as the food is delivered, the conversation ceases and groans of mmmmmm come from smiling, nodding heads.

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Jill Burke photos
An unassuming storefront belies impressive food at Doriolas.

The steady line of people streaming in for lunch reinforced what readers had told us about Doriolas on Tudor road, but no one warned us it was that place, the place where one menu item won't suffice and where before your meal is over you're already planning a return trip. I'm already scheming to attend "date night," a reservations-required, once-a-month private party that's your only chance to savor what Doriolas whips up for dinner.

But first, back to our lunch. As we filed in, my companion took immediate note of the brightly-colored artwork -- water-color paintings on one wall, multi-media displays made of pigmented beeswax and wood on the other. In between, people eagerly came in to pick up to-go orders while several others stayed, quickly filling up the restaurant's bistro-style tables and taking time to browse locally made knits, jewelry and other crafts available for sale.

The mavens of this midtown jewel, who cheerily whirl through taking orders and preparing food, are sisters Janet and Vivian Hickok. Doriolas is named in honor of their mother, and the restaurant bills itself as a place to get freshly-made breakfast snacks and lunch food in a relaxed, friendly surrounding -- and on our weekday, lunch-rush visit, it delivered.

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Creamy fresh asparagus soup, house green salad, fresh baby spinach and four-cheese quiche, and the "Garden Glori" and "Italian Merry Jane."
Soups ($5-$10), sandwiches ($6-$10), salads ($6-$9) and quiche ($6-$10) are the main fare. Combo plates ($11 for two items, $14 for three items) proved to be a great option for me and my dining partner, since we couldn't settle on just one item each. We went for the trio plate, ordering between us: Creamy fresh asparagus soup, house green salad, fresh baby spinach and four-cheese quiche, and two grill-pressed sandwiches, the "Garden Glori" (Havarti and Provolone cheese, red onion, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, roasted peppers, and Balsamic Vinaigrette) and "Italian Merry Jane" (Gallo Salami, spiral-cut ham, roast turkey, Provolone cheese, red onion, zucchini, minced olives, roasted red bell peppers, and Balsamic Vinaigrette).

The asparagus soup was wonderfully smooth and creamy, and the quiche was excellent. My favorite item, however, was the Italian sandwich. My dining partner loved the fresh salad, and enjoyed the quiche so much that she ordered an extra slice to take home.

We visited the restaurant right at noon, and within half an hour were able to overhear that some daily specials had already sold out -- a good sign that the food is popular, but if you're persnickety about getting what you want, you may want to arrive early.

For early risers, Doriolas offers breakfast and coffee starting at 5:00 a.m. You can keep your nibbles simple with a slice of cinnamon toast ($2.00), or go fancier with a veggie bagel melt with spinach, tomato, zucchini, onion and cheese ($7.50). Biscuits and gravy, quiche, oatmeal and granola are also available.

If comfort breakfast and lunch food isn't enough to develop a crush on Doriolas, the restaurant has developed "date night." Held on the third Saturday of each month, it's your chance to enjoy a five course meal for $40 per person. Held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and with reservations required, it's basically a private dinner party. This month the menu features oven roasted prime-rib with garlic mashed potatoes and corn puddings; for appetizers -- wasabi shrimp crisps, apricots with creamed cheeses and pistachios, and black bean and feta arepas; French onion soup; an iceberg lettuce wedge salad; and for dessert -- white-chocolate banana croissant bread pudding with warm caramel sauce.

And -- we're told they're planning something special for February just in time for Valentine's Day.

Doriolas

Breakfast: 5 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Closed Sundays
510 W Tudor Rd. #7, Anchorage
(907) 375-0494

Contact Jill Burke at .