Though Primo’s maitre d’ Brendan had moved on to pastures new, the wait staff was their gracious and efficient selves when my partner, myself and our guests showed up for supper one Saturday night. Our table was one of the family-sized models in the rear dining room. Primo’s was televising the Tennessee Vols — East Tennessee Buccaneers game, so we all had a team to cheer for.
(“Primo” – Italian Nachos)
At the outset of our meal, my dining partner suggested we have a real multi-course Italian meal with everyone choosing their favorite dish and sharing it family-style around the table, a good idea since Primo’s has a large and comprehensive menu of Italian and Mediterranean fare. My dining partner thoughtfully suggested that, rather than ordering an appetizer, my order of a Primo’s Salad ($6.49) would be shared as the cold, “Antipasto” course for our Italian meal, and we could start right in with the hot “Primo” course.
Her choice for our starter was a plate of Primo’s Italian Nachos ($8). Here, the culinary artists in Primo’s kitchen take cooked lasagna noodles, cut them into “chips” and then deep-fry them until they are crisp and crunchy. They are then layered with sliced grilled chicken, Italian sausage or both.
Next lots of Romano and parmigiana cheeses get folded into the house Alfredo (or “white”) sauce along with some sautéed mushrooms, diced onions and chopped green pepper. A few extra shakes of parmesan cheese on top and all of it spends some time in one of Primo’s 500-degree pizza ovens until everything is bubbling.
It is then brought to our table by our server with an admonishment to “Be very careful, this plate is very hot.” Despite the risk of scorched taste buds, there is no better way to start a family meal at Primo’s than with a platter of their near-molten and really delicious Italian Nachos.
(“Secondi” – steak calzone, chicken primavera)
Our Italian meal’s second or “Secondi” course has meat as its main ingredient. Our choice was for beef, as in steak calzone ($9.49) and also chicken primavera ($10.49). For the calzone, the staff takes Primo’s own scratch-made pizza dough, fills it with sliced round steak strips, sautéed mushrooms, chopped onions and mozzarella cheese, folds it into a turnover and then bakes it until golden brown. The chicken primavera was done with gluten-free penne pasta onto which a quantity of sautéed vegetables — broccoli, onion, mushrooms, peppers and sundried tomatoes — are layered. Delectable.
(“Contorni” – lasagna, chicken parmesan & spaghetti)
As “Contorni,” our side dishes and pasta course, I recommended we get a sampling of what Primo’s kitchen was capable of, placing an order for a Primo’s Special ($14.50) which came with an order of lasagna, along with a serving of chicken parmesan sided with spaghetti and Primo’s “ragu,” their excellent red tomato marinara sauce.
The lasagna also used the ragu in its recipe, being a stack of cooked lasagna noodles layered with ricotta, shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan cheeses, mixed with ground beef and more sliced mushrooms and more mozzarella cheese, then baked until bubbling.
The chicken parmesan had a marinated chicken breast dipped in a whipped egg, dredged in seasoned flour and deep-fried until hot and succulent on the inside, crispy on the outside. You add a slice of mozzarella cheese, some more ragu and then bake your creation until yummy. The spaghetti side dish was a good effort; I would have worked some ricotta cheese into the noodles for a contrast to the tang of the ragu.
(“Formaggio e frutta” – Greek pizza)
As our third course, we decided to have our cheese and fruit in the form of a 10-inch pizza in the “Greek” style. Feta and mozzarella were our cheeses (“formaggia”), with diced tomato and black olives as our fruit (“frutti”) along with some spinach and thin-sliced garlic cloves. We all decided to give our fourth course, the dessert tray, a miss. Truly, our New York-style Greek pizza made a nice and “interesting” closer to our Italian family-style supper. Or maybe it was the thin-sliced garlic.
Primo’s in Elizabethton is one of the best places in the Tri-Cities to enjoy Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant has a friendly, comfortable atmosphere that is palpable when you walk through their front door. The service is professional, unobtrusive and very friendly, Primo’s kitchen produces a menu that is truly fabulous, “favoloso” in Italian. Primo’s is “Recommended” by the Mystery Diner and his family.
Oh, and the outcome of that Vols / Buccaneers football game? Not so “favoloso.” No, indeed.
Primo’s Italian Restaurant
151 Hudson Drive
Sun-Thu 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.
Fri – Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Available on Facebook & at
Credit cards accepted.