Everyone has to eat on a Myrtle Beach golf trip, and Italian food is often at the top of the list for visiting groups. With the spring season coming into focus, we brought in our local golf and food gurus to debate the area’s best Italian restaurants.
Chris King: Ian, whether you are playing the Dunes Club or trying to enjoy a trip on the cheap, everyone has to eat, and we all enjoy Italian food. Pizza, pasta, risotto, whatever, pile it all on my plate (no, I’m not on a gluten free diet) but where do you, my follicly challenged friend, go for great Italian food?
Ian Guerin: My recent rave has been, well, Crave Italian Oven. My wife and I even took advantage of it for our anniversary. We got a huge carryout order, took it to the beach and enjoyed it in our own weird little way. But back to the topic at hand, that meal was about as thumbs up for a restaurant as I can give it. We didn’t touch anything until at least 20 minutes after pulling out of the Crave parking lot and finding a locale to dine. It was all perfect.
CK: Speaking of special events, I recently celebrated a milestone birthday that won’t be publicly acknowledged at Ciao, and for my money, there isn’t a better Italian restaurant along the Grand Strand. Just thinking about the veal pepper appetizer and the chicken milanese, which included sauteed arugula, tomatoes, onions and shaved parmesan, is making me hungry. From the outside, it looks like a hole-in-wall but I couldn’t more highly recommend it. (Ciao pictured right)
IG: Chris, your 30th birthday is nothing to be embarrassed about. But back to Crave; just like my aforementioned anniversary dinner, I was quite pleased with the prices. Above all else – as odd as it may sound – the family style antipasto tray (and, believe me, it is a tray of meats, cheeses and veggies) has turned into one of those items that I can randomly grab on my way back from the north end, throw on the kitchen counter when I get home and let my crew go to work on for an hour while we’re watching a movie or a game.
CK: You’ve convinced me to try the antipasto tray! Beyond Crave and Ciao are places like Capriccio’s and Scatori’s, both excellent choices whether you want a sit-down meal or takeout. The food at Capriccio’s is particularly good and the bar is a happening spot to grab a drink. If you can’t tell, I fully endorse it. I’ve always enjoyed Scatori’s as well, though you will need to be patient waiting for your order.
IG: What folks don’t recognize about places like Scatori’s – a joint I tried after a bunch my friends recommended it – is that good food isn’t meant to be zapped in a microwave. If you want fast food, there’s a McDonald’s right there in basically the same parking lot. Along those lines… while many of these better Italian places do pizza by the slice at lunch time, branch out if you can. At Scatori’s, for instance, the Caprese salad is bleeping awesome, the buffalo chicken panini rocks and the manicotti is an unexpected gut-buster.
CK: Speaking of a more casual Italian experience, Toffino’s in Market Common rocks. Best pizza in the area and I’m not sure it’s close. Throw in peppers stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella and daily homemade pastries for dessert, and you can’t go wrong. The bakery won’t do much to help your waistline, but the cannoli and tiramisu, among many otter treats, are worth the indulgence.
IG: The outdoor patio at Toffino’s is frequently packed because of exactly what you mentioned. Getting that type of food in such a laid-back environment can be a welcome change from many Italian joints, including nearby Travinia. The chain holds its own – despite the fact that it’s located across the street from a traditional pizza place. A big reason is an outstanding happy hour that runs from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
CK: I haven’t eaten at Travinia often, but I’ve enjoyed when I’ve been. Another place that flies under the radar is Angelo’s, which serves an Italian buffet and touts itself as having the “Greatest Steaks in the Universe.” Hyperbole aside, it’s not purely an Italian restaurant, but it’s pretty good.
IG: I think what we’re getting at here is that Myrtle Beach has plenty of great options. Maybe it’s the influx of northeasterners who set up shop here. But considering we’ve only named a handful, you’re sure to find one you like. If you’ve already got one, let us hear all about it so we can check it out for ourselves.