Ruston >Food & Dining > Monjuni's Italian Cafe
101 N Trenton St, Ruston, LA | Directions 7127032.528962 -92.639417
Fun little Italian eatery – I like this Monjuni's primarily for its atmosphere--it's cozy, casual, and fun. The owner and staff are very friendly, and there's usually a lively lunch crowd from the nearby businesses and university. It's one of only a handful of the Monjuni's chain restaurants where the food is still homemade according to the owner's personal recipes, rather than the formulaic recipes and bottled sauces at the other franchises.
The food itself is good, although I have a few complaints/suggestions: Although they provide a free appetizer of bread and marinara sauce, the bread itself can run from cold and chewy to toasted crisp--there's no real standard. I'd prefer a small (warm) loaf that I can cut or tear myself. The salads have a great flavor, especially with the house Italian dressing, but they do one thing that I hate: they shred the lettuce and dice the tomatoes! This is virtually impossible to eat with a fork without "scooping," and it reminds me of a cheap diner. I'd prefer leafy or chunked lettuce and large chunks of tomato.
The pasta is pretty traditional, but as in most American restaurants, its over-cooked and a little mushy--it would be nice if it could be served al dente. The sauces are the by far the highlight, and this particular restaurant makes its own--a traditional marinara (a little sweet), a rich alfredo, and, my favorite, the fresh tomato-basil. That last is just to-die-for, and you can request it on any of the dishes that usually come with one of the other two. I'd recommend the Neapolitan pasta (sort of like lasagna, but with different fillings) with the tomato-basil and just a side cup of the alfredo (usually, they serve it half and half). My only complaint with the sauces is that they often put too much--the pasta ends up floating in sauce. I think you can request it with less, though. You can order a beer with your dinner, but I don't recall seeing wine--that's the only thing lacking in the Italian flavor of the place.
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