210520NAYELI

Beth Webb, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, opted for this ‘south of the border’ burger during a recent stop at Nayeli’s Pizza and Restaurant in Walworth. Served with a generous order of fries, the burger featured Monterey Jack cheese, pico de gallo and avocado along with tortilla chips that provided a solid crunch.

WALWORTH

The drive to Walworth from Janesville is a pleasant one, with a scenic view of farms, crops and prairie land.

I enjoy shopping in Walworth. It isn’t a “window shopping” town (my grandma’s term), but there are some great and unique shops. It is also where you will find Nayeli’s Pizza and Restaurant in a strip mall as you’re heading south out of town.

I had heard good things about Nayeli’s, and the reviews were promising. I like pizza, but I like pasta and calzones even better, so I was ready to give them a try.

Now that I’ve reasoned this out, why did I decide to order ribs? When I discovered the restaurant was out of ribs during my visit, I opted instead for a hamburger.

I tried to chat with the person taking orders, asking questions about what is considered Nayeli’s best dish and where the name “Nayeli’s” comes from. but all I got were one-word answers.

I eventually settled on the “south of the border” burger ($7), which turned out to be surprisingly good. It was a thick, half-pound burger perfectly cooked to my preference of medium.

The meat fit the entire bun, a detail I appreciated. I had forgotten how much I like that. The melted jack cheese, pico de gallo and avocado were great additions, along with the tortilla chips that gave the sandwich a unique crunch. I must say this was the best burger I’ve had in a long time.

Did I mention the generous amount of french fries that came with the meal? I was quite full and happy by the time I finished.

The menu listed some tempting desserts, but I got a two-word answer when I asked about them: “Brought in.” With such a filling dinner, I was OK taking a pass this time on the sweets.

With so many selections on the menu, Jennifer ended up choosing the Italian chicken flatbread ($10) and a “special salad” ($8.50).

The flatbread was vibrantly colored with lots of ripe chopped tomato, freshly shredded basil, Italian seasoning, crispy bacon pieces, provolone and Parmesan cheeses, and a generous amount of cubed, baked Italian white meat chicken—all topped with homemade pesto sauce.

The bacon was a phenomenal addition, providing a crunchy texture and a little bit of saltiness. And the homemade pesto sauce? It was out of this world. Extra creamy with a nice basil and olive oil flavor, it was prepared with lots of the fresh herb and had an earthy, nutty taste. The bread’s crust was light yet sturdy enough to support all of the scrumptious ingredients.

The salad was more than special, in Jennifer’s opinion. Featuring romaine lettuce, it boasted shredded Romano cheese, vine-ripened tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, grilled Italian sausage, garlic powder and dried oregano all tossed together with an olive oil, red wine vinaigrette dressing.

Jennifer has never been so impressed by a salad. By far, it was the spicy, smoky flavors of the Italian sausage that absolutely “made” this dish and gave it a jump-start. She enjoyed it immensely.

Overwhelmed by so many dinner choices, Helene decided to play it safe and order pizza. But even that wasn’t an easy decision, as there were plenty of options to choose from on the menu.

She decided to try the medium, 12-inch pesto shrimp pomodoro ($14.25) with a thin crust. The subdued flavor of the crust allowed the toppings to shine as did the excellent texture.

The base was softer than the edge, which was lightly browned and crunchy with a soft chew in the center. The bright green of the pesto could be seen through the cheese, and chunks of diced red tomatoes and chopped shrimp was scattered across the top. The shrimp was nicely seasoned, and Helene’s first bite tasted of garlic. Delicious!

Nikki ordered the spicy penne ($8.50), which came with a small loaf of bread. The pasta was drenched in a flavorful marinara sauce and had bite-sized pieces of Italian sausage.

Nikki already had dinner planned the evening I delivered her entree, so she took a quick taste while it was fresh but saved the rest for lunch the next day. Reheating didn’t seem to affect the dish, though, as she reported the savory sauce and gooey, cheesy pasta with the fresh taste of the basil were as good the next day as they had been the night before.

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

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