Review: Galo's Italian Grill

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Galo's Italian Grill in Richmond IndianaI don't usually go to restaurants the first day they're open. The last time I tried to do that it was based on bad information and the place was still preparing to open. The time before that we walked in and seated ourselves, only to realize that the *next* day was the official public open, and that we had just joined in a private friends and family only dining experience. Oops.

But, third time's a charm. Tonight's dining experience at Galo's Italian Grill here in Richmond was worth the potential for injury or embarrassment, and neither occurred. In fact, from start to finish, it was a pleasure all around.

First of all, there's something really impressive about a brand new, locally owned, built-from-scratch restaurant that's unique in its community (or "market"). Most of the restaurant openings in Richmond are either a revamping of a familiar space, the introduction of a chain restaurant that you pass five of between here and anyplace else, or the dressing up of a food concept that has been done over and over. Don't get me wrong: I'd rather existing buildings be reused than new ones built, and I'm all for recycling things that are still useful and known to work...but still, stepping through the Galo's front door into a space unknown and full of promise was quite fun.

As our server noted, Galo's had clearly brought in approximately 300 staff people for every customer on opening night, and so we were welcomed by a gaggle of greeters who sat us promptly in the large open area at the center of the dining room. While it feels a little bit like a food court layout right now, the well lit ceiling mural, sturdy tables, hefty dinner ware and pleasant music countered that well; some plants, columns, candles and other decorations will help that along nicely. On the outer edges of this inner space one finds more intimate dining spaces, a nice non-smoking bar area, and a partially exposed kitchen. All in all, a very dynamic space with touches of elegance added while avoiding anything too pretentious or fancy.

The menu presented classic Italian fare with some nice variety thrown in. It was not too long or complicated, and though I resist treating a chain restaurant as a standard, it will feel familiar to those who have visited The Olive Garden. There was a decent wine selection for the price, the antipasto Bruschetta was fresh and flavorful, the salads were crisp and full of interesting ingredients - no iceberg lettuce here - and our pasta dishes were delicious - I can recommend the Pasta Mediterranean and Pasta Milano both. Topped off with rich and well-presented Tiramisu and fresh coffee, it was quite a meal, high quality all the way. Perhaps best of all, the portion sizes weren't ridiculously large or pitifully small (by American standards, anyway).

Perhaps because of my limited past experiences, I did have low expectations for the quality of service on opening night, but the place ran like it had been there for years. The staff were friendly and relaxed, there was only one dish that had to be preemptively declared unavailable, and the service was prompt and well-timed, even with what seemed like a pretty good crowd for the hour.

One should expect to spend at least $10/person at Galo's including tax and tip, and by the time you throw in any beverages, appetizers, salads, or desserts, you could be on your way to $25/person or more. For me, this puts Galo's up there with The Olde Richmond Inn (also owned by Galo and Linda Molina, who opened this newest venture together) as something of a "special occasion" dining spot, though I don't mind saying that the experience here seemed more "worth it" than at The Inn.

Time will tell how Galo's holds up in the oversaturated and unbalanced local restaurant scene, but if the opening night experience I had was any indication, it will be a new favorite destination for many. If you're not going to eat as local as your own garden, root cellar or pantry, then consider eating locally at Galo's Italian Grill.

Update May 5, 2008: A number of people have written me asking about how to contact Galo's, their hours, menu information, etc. In case it wasn't already clear, I have no official affiliation with Galo's, and don't have access to any special info about the restaurant that isn't available to other members of the public. If you need more information, please contact Galo's at 765-973-9000 or by postal mail at 107 Garwood Road, Richmond, IN 47374. Thanks!

9 thoughts on “Review: Galo's Italian Grill

  1. Thanks for the in-depth review Chris, I was hoping that Galo's would be a positive addition to the community and it sounds like it is. Can't wait to try it for myself!

  2. Thanks for the perspective, Chris. I wonder what the long term prospect is for the Olde Richmond Inn if this place takes off.

  3. Can you tell us what the hours are? I can't seem to find them anywhere.
    We would like to go tomorrow for lunch if they are open.

    Thank you for the review. It was very helpful

  4. Thanks for the review, Chris--we have been watching the building go up with interest. I had hoped they would make use of the house on the property, ala ORI, and preserve more of the trees; it's a pity that adapting an existing structure is often less cost-effective than throwing up a completely new one. Anyway, it's great to know that there is finally decent Italian food to be had in Richmond. Thanks for blazing the trail!

  5. Thanks, husband and I drove by Galo's last night late in the evening and were wondering just what we could expect from "an italian grill" we know. Thanks, for the colorful commentary, insight into the types of foods served, and the pricing.

  6. Well, we got the chance to try Galo's sooner than we thought--a friend treated us to dinner there this evening and we were impressed. The Eggplant Parmigiana and the chopped salad were both quite good. We will be adding this place to our regular rotation.

  7. My family and I tried Galo's this weekend. The first thing I discovered was this is not a restaurant for families. The only menu items for kids are spaghetti and spaghetti with meatballs. The lack of options for kids made the meal very expensive for a family. I got the Chicken Parmesan. It was exceptional. The breading was very light and allowed the other flavors to dominate. I would highly recommend it. However, the dish also included spaghetti. I would have to say, the spaghetti was pretty poor. The sauce was like water and didn't add much flavor. Most of my family enjoyed the food they ordered. One of my daughters got the lasagna. She didn't like it much. I tried it and it wasn't bad, but it had some taste in it I could not identify that kind of spoiled it for me.

    If Galo's wants to earn anymore business from me, they will need to have a kids menu. For the cost of the meal, I can eat much better many places in town.

  8. I just spoke to one of the managers and i am pleased that they are interested in working out a menu plan for my small wedding reception!My entire family will adore this place.I am sure everything will be wonderful.The wedding is not until july 2010,but i will go there several times to get a great italian meal prior to my date!

  9. I went to Galo's for the first (and last) time today. Mind you, there isn't much in Richmond but coming from Philadelphia where Italian restaurants are common and even smaller areas with Romano's Macaroni Grill (good), Carraba's Italian Grill (adequate), or Olive Garden (laughable), I found that Galo's was adequate at best.

    The staff was good, but we were asked if we wanted bread and oil, which seemed odd. After tasting the oil, I believe I know why they asked. The gnocchi was quite tender, but the sauce was tasteless, which was consistent with the Italian Wedding Soup. I believe the water was not tasteless, but the cheap plastic tumbler was quite tacky, as was the "Galo's Italian Grill" on the pasta bowl. Perhaps, they could have given us place mats with maps of Italy on them.

    The good thing is that they in Richmond, but you're better off buying something from the frozen foods at Wal-Mart to cook yourself.

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