Tutto bene means ‘everything is good’ in Italian. Apparently, it’s also a well known name for restaurants, according to Google. Unfortunately, not everything is good with the Tutto Bene retaurant in our little town of Ames, Iowa.

Opened almost a month ago, the owner’s brother owns a Mexican restaurant, Cazador, which is pretty popular in Ames. Since Cazador is very close to my office, we go there for lunch quite often and was very surprised when we’re told that they’re opening an Italian restaurant. Although Mexican and Italian cuisine both use tomatoes as main ingredient a lot, they’re not quite the same. Mexican food uses tomatoes for the condiments, mostly. While Italian food uses tomatoes mostly as sauces. I did have some hesitation towards the Mexican-owned new Italian restaurant.

So the four of us went to try it out one day for supper. I’ve not been a big fan of Italian cuisine due to my disliking to tomato-based food (except for pizza). But in spite of our family eagerness to be open to try anything new -food especially- plus my daughter is a big fan of pizza and spaghetti while my son’s loving lasagna.

The location is not new to us. It’s located at the former building of Mexican restaurant O’Malley and McGees. Interior-wise there was not a big change; including the seating arrangement. The lighting was not too bright nor too dark. Rather formal table setting with table cloth, tall big wine glass, and real silverware. We were seated rather quickly by a well mannered Mexican waitress. “Alright, this is going to be good,” we thought.

Time to order the food. Hubby chose the antipasto platters for the appetizer, which he claimed as ‘surprised’ to see it on the menu. ‘Surprised’ in a good way; more like ‘impressed’. Antipasto is the right Italian way to start a meal, and it cost $8. I ordered a chicken marsala (it’s ‘pollo marsala’ on the menu) for myself, while hubby ordered some kind of pasta dish. For the kids, we got them spaghetti with meatballs and lasagna.


The food was horrible. Started with the antipasto; the cured shrimp tasted old like ‘meat gone bad’ kind of taste while the marinated vegetables tasted weird. My chicken marsala was disappointing because the chicken felt like like rubber; like it was a frozen chicen breast and nuked in the microwave.  They served it with green and red bell peppers, which was the first time for me to see. Hubby’s pasta and Davi’s spaghetti were over cooked, while the meatballs were very chewy and tasted horrible. We were hoping that the lasagna would be better, but it was less than warm and hard to chew. The only thing we could eat was the bread.

Since we couldn’t finish the food and the kids were still hungry, we opted to leave to go elsewhere for dinner. “Would you like a box to take your food home?” the waitress asked. “NO!” hubby and I answered in unison. “No, thank you,” I smiled politely.

On our way home, we turned in to McDonald’s drive thru. Nothing is more reliable than the good ol’ artery clogging Big Mac!