Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller (@eatindywatchindie on Instagram)
I’ve had the opportunity to do quite a bit of traveling in my life and hotel restaurants will always hold a special place in my heart. This is even the case for restaurants in hotels in which I’m not staying--reason being, it still gives me that feeling of being on vacation. The restaurant in the spotlight this week is, in fact, located in a hotel, but it is much more than that. OP Italian Indy is located at 10 S. West St. inside the immaculate and awe-inspiring JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis where they serve up classic Italian cuisine in one of the coolest spots Indy.
As you could imagine in a hotel as beautiful as the JW, the interior of OP is equally as stunning. The dining area has a wide-open layout highlighted by the exposed kitchen. If you’re worried about seeing a bunch of dirty dishes and such, no need to fear because this kitchen is spotless. There is a reason they allow everyone to see what they’re doing. There is also a nice little bar area that is perfect for an after-work or late-night drink, i.e., a great place to hang out.
The real reason to be excited about OP and the reason you’re probably reading this column is the food. They are making classic Italian food new again. Even though the restaurant is located in a fancy hotel, they still do the little things that make it foodie-friendly. The food is locally sourced and almost everything is made from scratch right in the kitchen. From pizza and pasta to apps and entrees, the menu has a little something for everyone. So, without further ado, here are four “can’t miss” items from the menu that stole my heart.
Pepperoni Pizza: You all think this is a safe and boring choice, don’t you? Well, to be honest I would agree with you most of the time, but the pizzas at OP are legit! They even had their pizza oven imported all the way from Italy to get it just right. The pepperonis are hand sliced and you can taste the difference in every bite. They start with fresh pizza dough that is hand tossed to just the right size. Then they add the house-made red sauce, mozzarella and fontina cheese and tasty pepperoni, all finished off with Parmesan. Into the oven--and 85 seconds later--your pie awaits. That’s faster than warming up a slice in the microwave! The crust is soft and chewy in the center and crispy around the edge, and the taste is out of this world. You down with OP P(izza)…yeah, you know me!
Tomato Braised Lamb Shank: In case you couldn’t tell from the picture below, the shank is taken from the lower part of a lamb’s leg. It is a very lean cut of meat with a ton of flavor that, when prepared properly, almost has a sticky texture to it. The braising process makes the meat fall-off-the-bone tender. The rich, flavorful sauce pairs perfectly with the distinct taste of the lamb. The shank is served on a bed of creamy taleggio polenta, making this an exemplary dish!
Short Rib Gnocchi: If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m really diggin’ the bold flavors on the OP menu, and this dish might just be the crème de la crème. The short ribs come from Fisher Farms right here in Indiana and are of the highest quality. They braise the short ribs to lock in that delicious flavor and make them melt-in-your-mouth tender. The gnocchi are soft and succulent and served in a sauce of gorgonzola cream and red wine jus. This is a dish you’ll be thinking about long after it’s gone.
Prime Beef Meatballs: It seems like the trendy thing to do nowadays is to make a meatball as big as your head. Well, OP bucks that trend and makes these delightful balls of meat bite-size. The beef used in the meatballs is local (love it!) and they are perfectly seasoned before taking a bath in the house-made marinara. They are served with garlic toast to add some crunch. Be careful with these little beauties--they can be addictive.