Rafael’s – Royal Treatment

Friday, January 17, 2014 - by Willie Mae

Lois and I were headed to an antique shop in Cleveland and decided to grab some lunch. Lois was hankering for Italian and, when I saw Rafael’s Pizza and Italian restaurant located at 2324 Treasury Dr., I thought it would make a good story since I had not tried it before.

When we walked in, it was nice and clean. It wasn’t a restaurant that seats you, like I had thought. You order at the counter like a fast food place. The young man at the counter was so polite and had very good customer skills. It made the place seem less like a fast food place and more like a small business owner’s restaurant. I still was not sure yet what type of place this was.

Lois and I sat down with take-out menus until we were ready to order. I wanted the cannelloni for $5.95 with a side salad for $1.75 and Lois wanted the lasagna for $6.25 with a side salad. After shopping we were quite hungry because we left early and did not have breakfast.

When I ordered at the counter, I had to pay first and there was a place for a tip (even though I had no idea how our meal would be). I gave a good tip because the boy was very professional and helpful when I ordered. He gave me a number, but it wasn’t his phone number – guess I was too old for him.

Lois and I helped ourselves getting our drinks and plastic ware and sat down at a booth. The booths were low and Lois barely reached the table. She wanted to ask for a booster seat.

Lois was so hungry she grabbed her Diet Coke and said, “I could make a meal just on this Diet Coke!”

When they called out numbers, customers went up to get their meals. The next thing I knew, that sweet boy brought our food to our table. We had number 30, but the last number they called out was number 28. I wasn’t sure if we were brought ours so efficiently because we were two old ladies or if it was because I was a good tipper, but I enjoyed the royal treatment!

The first thing Lois noticed was that her lasagna didn’t have cheese on top like my meal did. I handed her the cheese in a jar that was on the table. Surely, she wouldn’t find anything wrong with lasagna – how can you do lasagna wrong? It had cheese inside but was smothered with tomato sauce. Actually, our meals looked a lot alike except for my cheese on top.

I teased Lois that she wouldn’t like this meal either just because of the missing cheese and she said, “I don’t care. It could be rubber and it would taste good!” I guess I need to bring her on my jaunts when she is starving more often!

Our bread looked great. It was a hoagie-size roll that was toasty on the outside and soft on the inside. It was already buttered so we didn’t have to do it. With the styrofoam plates and plastic ware and ordering at the counter, I realized this was a fast food type place, sort of like Fazoli’s, but it looked like a full service restaurant and, with the staff so professional and courteous, it felt like a real restaurant.

My cannelloni was good, but it did have a taste of the fast food-put-together-quickly-food. Lois liked her lasagna fine too, but we agreed that it wasn’t what we expected.

The price was exceptional for the large portions we were served. I could only eat half of mine and I said, “Whew, I’m through.” Lois was still eating and said, “Don’t tell ME your troubles.” Poor thing’s sugar must have been about to bottom out. She reached to try a bite of the cannelloni that was left on my plate. I asked her if she liked it and she said it tasted just like hers and she couldn’t tell the difference.

It wasn’t the full service, chef-prepared restaurant we were hoping for, but for a quick and economical meal with impeccable service – this place definitely gets a thumb’s up.


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