Matteo’s Ristorante Italiano
40 North 9th Street Noblesville IN 46060
Matteo’s is a Noblesville staple, serving fine Italian fare in a beautiful and old town-elegant setting housed in one of the older buildings forming the Noblesville square. Chef Matteo DiRosa, whom I understand is from Salerno, Italy, has brought the taste of his home country to an area awash in Americanized chain Italian eateries. Opening in 2003, around the time I first moved to the area, this restaurant has served as one of the few fine dining options in Noblesville. I have eaten here for both lunch and dinner a number of times in the last decade and a half of its existence, and each time I have had a similarly good meal that shines above the other local Italian-lite restaurants. While I have never been to Salerno or Italy in general, and I cannot vouch for authenticity, his food tastes like what I imagine a nice fountain-side cobblestone lined cafe would offer.
In realistic terms, this upscale dining experience was somewhat unexpected amongst the collection of antique stores, old bars, and law offices (being near the courthouse) I walked past when I first dined here years ago. Once you walk inside. you are greeted by an expanding room with green marble-like pillars, tall booths to the left and tables to the right. The walls are awash in the requisite old Italian photos and posters. It has a sense of small-town finery, a charm that is not born of the bombastic New York Italian club-like atmosphere many upscale Italian restaurants try to project, but rather a simpler and older look born of the turn of the last century that seeps from the building that houses it. That is not to say the dining room appears understated or outdated, it actually matches the charm of Noblesville square while providing an approachable elegance.
Matching this approachable elegance is a nice, if not somewhat abbreviated (not in a bad way) menu filled with Matteo’s staple dishes. Starting appetizers include a wonderful version of fried ravioli (a favorite of mine from my days eating in the wonderful Italian restaurants of St. Louis where this dish is a staple) that is also served with puffy potato croquettes. Various salads and small plate dishes are offered, as well as the salumeria da Matteo, a nice selectable combination of meats and cheeses in the style of the traditional antipasto plate.
Main courses include chicken, meat, and seafood dishes served with flavorful sauces over pasta or Italian rice pilaf. This includes the Pollo Amore, chicken served with a marsala wine sauce, garlic, mushrooms, cream, prosciutto, and melted mozzerella cheese (which I believe is made in-house). Other dishes include traditional veal, scallops, and a lovely center cut filet mignon within a puff pastry. Pastas are also featured of course, ranging from fettuchini with chicken sausage, to house-made gnocchi, seafood linguine, raviolis and tortellini, as well as a meaty bolognese with mostaccioli. While the table-served bread and primary starches are included with all dishes, and some have a vegetable as well, additional side dishes can be ordered which include a great sauteed spinach, as well as mushrooms, green beans, asparagus, and more of the the potato croquettes I ate as an appetizer before the meal.
The portion sizes are very robust, but not absurdly belt loosening as is expected in many stereotypical ‘old-school’ large city Italian restaurants. I did manage to save room for the requisite dessert, which in any decent Italian restaurant should always include a fine coffee and tiramisu in my opinion. Matteo’s version did not disappoint, and brought an end to a lovely evening in downtown Noblesville.
Of course, Matteo’s has a fine selection of wines for prior to, during, and after dinner- the full quality of which escapes me as I am a beer aficionado primarily. I did have a nice glass of Chianti, the label of which I cannot recall. Italians are not the most robust brewers, and the selection in the United States seems to be limited to Peroni and Moretti, the former of which I am not particularly fond of while the Moretti is not bad. Unfortunately, Matteo’s did not offer it as a selection the night I most recently dined. Regardless, I have heard many praise the fine selection of wines Matteo’s carries, and defer judgement of this to other online reviewers.
The cost of the meal most certainly matched both the portion and quality of what I received, and the charm of the dining room expanded the value of the experience even further.
If you are looking for a traditional upscale Italian meal, unique for the area while embracing the charm of its old town housing, Matteo’s in Noblesville will provide that experience as it has for me on a number of occasions.