Goodfellaz offers Italian alternative on Indy’s Southside When you’re a restaurant critic and you get a request to review a restaurant called Goodfellaz, even one spelled with a “Z,” you tell yourself you’d better do it. But then you start to think, what if you don’t like it? What if you say that the marinara sauce is a little thin? That the meatballs have too much filler? Will you get a visit from cousin Vinny, suggesting it’d be good for you if you took it easy on Ma’s recipes? The sausage pie ($3.50/half order) starts the meal with a nice kick. All joking aside, Goodfellaz, which doubles as sport bar and Italian trattoria on South Emerson near Southport Road, does have its share of mob movie memorabilia. Nary a foot of wall space is without another poster for Scarface, The Godfather or The Sopranos, each with a well-rolled stogie enshrined behind glass. Black tablecloths, dark woods and deep red walls give this place the air of a joint where the boys might go to fill up on pasta before a night of carousing — a place where a fussy restaurant critic would do well just to sit back and enjoy the plates of food laid before him. Indeed, some initial requests caused a little consternation. When we asked for a non-smoking seat, the hostess disappeared to the back to consider what to do with us and then led us around to a dark, walled-off section of about four tables that had all the ambience of a tomb. When we inquired about wine, our waitress told us the only red wine they had was Chianti. But then she returned to say they only had enough for one glass, so would a carbernet or a merlot work instead for the others who’d ordered it? From whence did these mysterious wines appear? As with any good family-run Italian place, however, things loosened up considerably once we had some wine and got our first course. While the place oozes goombah, there are plenty of American bar standards on the menu. You can get a classic Hoosier breaded tenderloin, or their Italian version, or you can dig into Goodfellaz’s twist on the family favorite: the Sloppy Joseppi. When in Rome, though, we figured the best bet was the hearty Italian fare. For an appetizer, our waitress recommended the sausage pie ($3.50/half order), which she described as meats and cheeses between two layers of bread. The “bread” was actually more like a crunchy pizza crust with golden bits of cheese and garlic baked on top. While the filling was somewhat dry, Italian sausage, five cheeses and hard salami gave it a nice kick, and a half order didn’t weigh us down before the main event. Salads, included with each entrée, were straightforward with ubiquitous iceberg, but the Caesar dressing was more toward a tangy Italian vinaigrette than the typical mayonnaise-heavy glop, and house salads had a good amount of real bacon and finely minced hardboiled egg. Main dishes spanned from light and fresh to the favorites your Italian grandmother would fill you with. An unadorned grilled salmon ($14.95) was nicely cooked and offered two quite fresh and meaty filets. A vegetable medley from a list of starchier, creamier sides included crisp broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. At the other end of the spectrum was a rich special of veal parmesan ($16.95). A thick hunk of breaded veal, rather than the usual pounded thin slices, retained a lot of oil from the fryer, and a slightly sweet and chunky tomato sauce obscured the flavors of the veal and the side of spaghetti more than we might have liked. House-made sauces for pastas include classic marina, clam and alfredo, a creamy red pepper sauce and an interesting white onion sauce. Our waitress suggested the red pepper sauce with the five-cheese ravioli ($8.95). A half order was more than enough, and the pasta did indeed have a homemade quality about it — toothy little pasta pillows with a tangy mix of cheeses. The sauce could have had a bit more zip to it, but meatballs added on the side were clearly hand-rolled and nicely seasoned. Few restaurants make their own cannolis ($4.95) and while Goodfellaz doesn’t make the shells, theirs is surprisingly flaky. While it didn’t have any of the candied fruit peel or pistachios some versions have, we could detect a good whiff of cinnamon and a rich, sweet filling that spilled out either end of this delicious confection. Our waitress said it would disappear — and she was right. Opened in June by the trio of Tim Dyke, Tom Ford and red-blooded Italian Lou Santangelo offering his Grandma Santangelo’s recipes, Goodfellaz is yet another Italian eatery in a part of town that doesn’t exactly need more Italian food. But with Matt Blake, who’s worked in the kitchens at Malibu on Maryland and Ted’s Montana Grill, cooking up some playful takes on American bar food and Italian cuisine, and a cheeky nod to silver screen Mafia culture, Goodfellaz is a great alternative to what you’d get in a lot of chains and taverns on Indy’s developing Southside. Good fellaz 6815 S. Emerson Ave. 791-4161 hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Food: 3 Stars Atmosphere: 3 Stars Service: 3.5 Stars

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