Terranova’s Italian Restaurant

30 Nov 2010
Average Cost ($8-$14)
West Huntsville
3 out of 5

Melanie’s Take

Shane and I have developed a love-hate relationship with Terranova’s over the past few years. When they first opened, we gave them a try and weren’t impressed. We thought their food was slightly superior to a Stouffer’s frozen Italian entree. The seasonings were bland, the ingredients were unimpressive, and the bread could’ve doubled as a hockey puck. After visiting a few mores times, they seem to have worked out the growing pains that sometimes accompany opening a new restaurant. The first good sign was the light and savory peasant bread that was served in place of its hockey puck predecessor. It is an on-the-house appetizer that comes with italian spices floating in olive oil for dipping.
The second good sign was the tasty food we received. Shane ordered the lasagna and I ordered the stuffed pasta combo of chicken canneloni and cheese manicotti. In the past, I found this meal bland, but I was pleased with the flavorful marinara sauce and the nicely seasoned fillings of each pasta. In addition, the pasta was covered with a generous portion of melted mozzerella cheese. We dined at lunch and the price for my entree was only $7.99, a nice price for a sit-down Italian meal. We didn’t have room for dessert, but if you do, you must order the strawberry tiramisu. I know, I know; it’s not traditional, but just do it. You won’t be sorry.

Shane’s Take

Terranova’s definitely is love-hate with us. I’m frustrated by nearly every visit, but I think it holds potential.
The ambience is a mixed bag. There are Italian pictures, postcards, and movie posters hanging on all the walls, and there are various Italian statues and decor everywhere. It’s a bit like a classier and authentic Italian version of a mid-90s Applebee’s. (The Huntsville Times once reported that the owners had travelled Italy and collected Italian memorabilia for years before opening the store. I believe it.) I really like the decorations and could spend an entire visit just looking at them and pondering where they came from and who once owned them. On the other hand, the high exposed ceilings and echoey sound prevent the store from feeling eclectic and cozy, despite the numerous eclectic and cozy furnishings. Since first visiting Terranova’s a few years ago, I’ve been frustrated with this, and I remain frustrated. It could be a really cool must-see restaurant, but the decorations are wasted by the overbearing killjoy ambience. As Melanie said, the food has been hit or miss with us, with the bread being a constant miss. With this visit, it seems that the food has improved. The bread, for one, is much tastier and isn’t the mess it once was. The dipping spices, which were unchanged, remain flavorful and much better than the cracked pepper served at other stores. For an entree, I chose the lasagna—surely any Italian restaurant can serve delicious lasagna—and was impressed. It looked nice, had a smooth not-too-tomatoey tomato sauce, and had just the right amount of cheese. It could use a little more seasoning and a tastier sausage, but it otherwise is good straightforward lasagna and probably a bit tastier than the last time I ordered it. At $7.99, it’s a value.
Overall, I was pleased with our visit to Terranova’s. We were just about put out with it the last time we visited, but I believe they’ve redeemed themselves. It’s worth a try and is a good value for a home-owned sit-down eating experience. Things to note:
  • As you walk in the door, you’ll see a big wrought iron gate almost straight ahead. Walk to that gate, turn left, and look at the wall. The painting at the top of that wall shows some old Roman columns. That painting is among the coolest I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. I would like to hang it in my house.
  • Terranova’s serves the best restaurant coffee in Huntsville. It has a bold vibrant flavor and is smooth going down.
  • The service is solid. We often have received exceptional service at Terranova’s.
  • Check out the variety of chandeliers. Very cool.
Bonus! Should someone in the Terranova’s inner circle be reading, here are some suggestions for improving the store:
  • Ditch some of the late-90s movie posters, which dilute the cool factor of the surrounding 60s-era posters.
  • Install a drop ceiling or something! You must get rid of that empty space. It is killing the vibe of the store.
  • Replace the 80s pop music with authentic Italian tunes—maybe some 60s Italian pop or lounge music?
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