Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Atlantis Family Restaurant

The night before a backpacking trip to Shenandoah, we were out in Virginia going to REI (for the 16th time that month) and looking for dinner.  B suggested pasta/Italian so I googled around until I found Atlantis Family Restaurant.  From the website it seemed sufficiently low-key and homestyle.  As we pulled into the parking lot we realized that we'd been to Atlantis before to break a Ramadan fast with our friend's family. While we debated what we'd ordered on our last visit, I don't think there was any forgetting the lovely murals:

Wait a second.  Didn't I say that this was an Italian restaurant?  Why are there Greek murals on the wall?  Despite a web address of "AlexandriaItalianFood.Com," Atlantis is actually a Greek and Italian restaurant.  Actually, their menu is kind of all over the place ranging from gyros to pasta to fried chicken to BBQ.  B insisted on taking a picture of me behind their giant menu.  Here you go:

We stuck to our plan and ordered two dishes from the Italian section of the menu: lasagna for B and baked spaghetti for me.  I giggled and immediately launched into a rousing rendition of "On Top of Old Smoky" when my dish was set before me.

Timeout. I always thought the song went "On top of old smoky, all covered with cheese. I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed."  Apparently that's a parody of a classic folk song and the parody lyrics are "On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese..."  Oops, makes more sense now.  Time in.

These dishes were ridiculous in a lot of ways (giant, covered in way too much cheese, etc.) but somehow were exactly what we were looking for.  It wasn't Michelin quality food and it wasn't creative, but it was satisfying in a down-home way.  Served with a side of cheesy murals and a menu the size of Florida, what more could you want?

Second Thoughts from B

I don't know if it is because I work with a bunch of middle-aged women or if it is an East Coast thing or what, but I feel like I need to explain what we mean by "backpacking."  We're talking about piling all your Earthly possessions into a backpack and hiking many miles into the wilderness for a few days.  This should not be confused with "camping" which also involves tents and dirt, but is often done next to a car and/or some sort of bathroom (albeit primitive).  The point is, when you're backpacking, you have to minimize risk because civilization is many miles and many hours away in case of an emergency... medical or you know, the kind that requires plumbing.

So when J asked where I wanted to eat the night before 3 days in the woods, I went with the safest choice.  Pasta.  I didn't want some exotic meat, I didn't want anything piled with jalapenos, and I sure didn't want something covered in grease.  I wanted something that would be filling (after all, we'd be eating dehydrated meals all weekend) and easily digestible.  For us, Atlantis was the pragmatic choice.

Friday night at Atlantis was hopping.  While we were playing it safe, it seemed to be date night for people who ventured to this strip mall "gem" in search of fine dining.  I don't know how to put this delicately, so at the risk of making a Romney-esque 47% gaffe, let's just replay a conversation between the waitress and the table next to us:
"You got Sweet Tea?"
"No, I'm sorry."
"How 'bout Mountain Dew?"
"Jack Daniels?"
"Sorry sir..."
"I think we'll take our meal to go."

I don't say any of this to put down Atlantis or its clientele.  Quite the opposite in fact.  It isn't the fanciest choice out there and it isn't trying to be.  It is called a "family restaurant" for a reason.  It has everything you need and nothing you don't.  (Yes, I said it.  No one needs Sweet Tea, Mountain Dew or Jack Daniels)  It is exactly the type of place that I would have adored as a kid.  And in a way, the big kid inside me thinks Atlantis - with its goofy murals, gigantic menu, and satisfying large portions - is some kind of awesome.
Atlantis Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Gayle said...

I never realized they billed themselves as anything Italian in the slightest, but I have to say it looks pretty good.
My husband used to work near there and we also frequent REI, but we only ever Greek food there! Which, by the way, is aces. Gyros are also a good pre-backpacking protein punch.