One of the mysteries of the 101 List is the inclusion of Minard’s over several more well-known Italian places in the Clarksburg/Bridgeport area (think Julio’s and Oliverio’s and probably other places whose names I do not know). The list claims to be a “people’s choice,” so I figure maybe they are on to something. With other options out of the running because they were closed over the holiday, Missy and I decided to knock one more off the list with our first stop at Minard’s.
Minard’s is an old-school southern Italian place located just off Rte. 50 near downtown Clarksburg. It’s in a remolded home and looks like an old-school southern Italian restaurant. Seriously, if restaurants could come from central casting, Minard’s would be it. We both went for classics: Missy for the half spaghetti/half lasagna (photo at end of post) and I ordered the rigatonis with meatballs (Rigatoni was a favorite with my Italian mother). The meals came with a house salad and Missy, ever vigilant about food allergies, asked if the salads had any nuts on them. Our server said the only thing they come with is tomatoes. She wasn’t kidding.
My salad was iceberg lettuce and tomatoes, dressed in a house italian that was little more than olive oil (there was a little extra spice, but not much, and I really couldn’t make out any vinegar). Now, I like olive oil and the tomatoes were very tasty (they take their tomatoes seriously in Clarksburg), but the salad was very forgettable.
The Rigatoni was the same. The pasta was cooked well, which can be tricky with rigatoni, and the sauce was hearty with meat but was not very flavorful:
The meatballs were all beef. That’s great if you are avoiding pork, but it lacks the complexity of a true beef, veal, and pork offering. The meal wasn’t bad — it couldn’t be a Clarksburg institution if it were — and I finished the plate. But I wouldn’t drive out of my way for it.
Service was friendly enough, but our orders got lost behind two big groups so we were stuck waiting for way too long. The AC wasn’t working either; it was really hot in the anteroom, and warm but okay in the dining area. Can’t imagine how bad the cooks had it. The meal, including a half carafe of wine and tip, was $45. Not super cheap, but not crazy expensive either.
Is it Unique?
An Italian place in Clarksburg unique? Why not ask if a bar in New Orleans is unique? Minard’s is comfortable and I can see why its fans like it, but in the realm of Italian places in the heart of West Virginia’s Italian community there really isn’t anything that makes this place stand out. If your goal is a good value and hearty food, Minard’s will work just fine. There are times you just want a nice, filing meal and I didn’t have a place this good in Berkeley County when I grew up. That said, if you want something more memorable, there are better options near by.