201022DITAS

During a recent visit to Dita’s Family Restaurant in Beloit, Beth Webb, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, enjoyed the eatery’s Friday night fish fry. Along with three large pieces of fish, the entree came with a large baked potato, mixed vegetables and cole slaw.

BELOIT

Sometimes, word of mouth gives us our best recommendations for new restaurants to try.

This was the case with Dita’s Family Restaurant in Beloit. In all the years I’ve lived here, I don’t think I’ve ever been to the west side of Beloit.

On a perfect fall day, the drive down through the countryside was just what I needed. There was a memorable sunset that evening, and the peaceful trip reminded me how grateful I am for our rural farms.

Dita’s Family Restaurant has been a Beloit standard for more than 18 years, and I can see why. First of all, the staff is friendly. When I called to place my order and said I was coming from Janesville, the woman immediately told me she would hold off putting it in for 10 or 15 minutes so it would be fresh and on time when I got there.

I went down on a Friday night, when Dita’s serves a traditional fish fry. I got three big pieces of flaky, crunchy cod ($13.19), a large baked potato with butter and sour cream and some extra-cream cole slaw. I normally pass on a mixed vegetable option, but these were perfectly done—still crunchy and flavorful.

I was tempted to finish off my meal with a dessert, but when I found out none were made in-house, I passed. However, next time, I’ll make sure to try a hand-muddled brandy Old Fashioned, which is always a great accompaniment to any tasty fish fry.

Earlier in the week, I had visited to sample breakfast. I opted for for a vegetable omelet ($8.75) with big broccoli florets and mushrooms, finely chopped onion and tomato along with creamy cheese. Of course, it made two meals for me because it came with crispy hash browns and two large pancakes.

Helene and her husband decided to brave a dine-in meal when she saw Dita’s had a small outdoor patio. The attached bar, which accommodates an overflow of diners at busy times, has a small patio that seats about 16 people. It’s used mainly by smokers.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when they sat down and enjoyed breakfast. Helene tried the country Benedict ($7.95), which differentiates itself from the traditional eggs Benedict by being served with a “biscuits and gravy”-type sauce. She substituted a sausage patty ($2.95) instead of the ham, which was a good choice because the sausage patty was the prominent flavor.

Fairly juicy without being greasy, the patty was good-sized and practically covered the English muffin. And everything came out warm.

Helene swapped the hash brown side for fresh fruit (add $1), but it was worth it. The melon, pineapple, orange slices and grapes were wonderfully fresh and sweet.

Helene’s husband, Bob, ordered the eggs Benedict ($11.95), and while Helene was unable to get her fork in to try a bite, he did mention everything was cooked to his liking. His slice of ham was thick, and the hash browns had a nice crispness to them.

Nikki headed down to pick up some pasta after seeing on Dita’s Facebook page that Thursday is “Italian night.” Featured dishes include homemade lasagna, chicken artichoke fettuccine and baked penne with meatballs. Though they all sounded delicious, she decided on the lasagna with meat sauce.

The huge piece of lasagna came with a slice of garlic toast. For her choice of sides, she picked the vegetables. Carrots, broccoli and cauliflower were steamed just right and were not too mushy, balancing well with the rich, hearty lasagna. Like me, Nikki is a fan of sauce, and she gave Dita’s two thumbs up.

Jennifer was in the mood for a burger when she visited at lunchtime. She chose the Dita’s Burger ($8.95), which is prepared with Angus beef. For an extra $1.75, her options included a cup of soup, french fries or fruit. She went with the fries.

Finding a good burger is always on Jennifer’s radar, and Dita’s serves up a mighty good one. The thick, juicy patty was covered with a layer of melted pepper jack cheese and bacon laid in a woven pattern on a delightfully soft, chewy pretzel bun. Jennifer really enjoyed that bit of heat from the cheese, which when paired with the crunchy, slightly salty bacon, was tops in flavor.

To say Jennifer was impressed would be an understatement. Her golden-brown fries were nice and crispy on the outside with a light, fluffy interior. All in all, it was a superb meal.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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