Memphis Foodie

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Pete and Sam’s August 7, 2011

Filed under: East Memphis — Shannon R Little @ 6:42 pm
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As I have said, I was fortunate enough to visit Italy in June as a graduation present from my grandfather. I know I have the greatest grandparents ever, you don’t have to remind me. Obviously, this was a food lovers dream. I ate and drank my way through the whole country, and I did not regret one bite of anything. I tried everything I could possibly try in 36 meals (and a few snacks), which included pizza, pasta, and gelato on a daily basis.

While in Italy, I kept thinking about my absolute favorite restaurant here in Memphis: Pete and Sam’s. I always thought Pete and Sam’s was authentic Italian, especially after I swear I dined with the Mob last time I was in there. However, my recent trip to Italy confirmed my thoughts: Pete and Sam’s is as authentic as it gets in Memphis.

My main amazement at Italian dining is that it is always an event, never just a meal. All lunches and dinners last 2 or 3 hours, and there is always a series of courses. Pete and Sam’s operates by this law as well. In this restaurant, you are taken to Italy, where nobody has a sense of time and everyone is enjoying the festive atmosphere. You can truly experience Italy if you order one of Pete and Sam’s Italian Dinners.

Italian meals always begin with bread. It is also usually served with salami, cheese, or a dipping sauce. Sometimes you just use olive oil and cracked pepper. Pete and Sam’s always has bread and crackers waiting for you when you sit down, however they do not have anything to go with it.

Bread and Fresh Tuna Dip from Italy

Bread and Fresh Tuna Dip from Italy

Bread and Toast from Pete and Sams

Bread and Toast from Pete and Sams

The next course is usually a soup or salad. If you order an Italian dinner from Pete and Sam’s your meal always begins with a salad. The best part about Pete and Sam’s salads are the HOMEMADE dressings!

Salad with Homemade 1000 Island from Pete and Sam's

Salad with Homemade 1000 Island from Pete and Sam's

In Italy, after the salad comes the pasta dish. At Pete and Sam’s, pasta is usually the entree, but in Italy it is not. At Pete and Sam’s, the pizza comes before the pasta.

Lasagna from Italy

Lasagna from Italy

Famous BBQ Pizza from Pete and Sam's

Famous BBQ Pizza from Pete and Sam's

In Italy, after the pasta comes the main course, which is usually a meat and one or two vegetables. For Pete and Sam’s, this is when they serve the pasta and one side dish. I always opt for the Italian Spinach, as it is one of my all-time favorite foods. I have it catered in to events, and I could seriously eat an entire tray of it. Did I mention they have freshly grated parmesan to go on top?

Fresh Fish and Salad from Italy

Fresh Fish and Salad from Italy

Lasagna and Italian Spinach from Pete and Sam's

Lasagna and Italian Spinach from Pete and Sam's

Lastly, in Italy, you receive a dessert, coffee, and a shot of either Amaretto or Limoncello after the meal. You have choices for dessert at Pete and Sam’s as well.

Lemon Cookies and Almond Bark in Italy

Lemon Cookies and Almond Bark in Italy

Espresso and Amaretto in Italy

Espresso and Amaretto in Italy

Overall, Pete and Sam’s not only has amazing food and an inviting atmosphere, but it is also authentic Italian. The wine flows freely, the air is relaxed, and everyone is having a great time.

To learn more about Pete and Sam’s, check out their website or Facebook page. You can also find them on Urbanspoon, Yelp, and Trip Advisor.

Pete & Sam's on Urbanspoon

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2 Responses to “Pete and Sam’s”

  1. Eljay Says:

    I made many jokes about Olive Garden having the worst Italian food, and after eating at Pete & Sam’s, I owe the Olive Garden an apology. Pete & Sam’s is the worst. The food, the service, the facility, and the prices were all substandard. Our party sat where half the table had lighting and the other half was so dark, I had to use my cell phone to make light to read the menu. The waiter made a rude remark to our guest for having confused him by ordering a “plain” salad, which the waiter interpreted as a “dry” salad, and upon correcting him, he got irritated, to which I sternly corrected him right back. I had to get up to get our guest straws, get my own beer that he forgot, and other things. I had to ask other waiters for help because mine was no where to be found, and the other waiters seemed embarrassed about it.

    The food that I sampled from others at the table, including my own was bland, plain, burned, or just nasty. I spotted several people offering their food to others at the table because they didn’t like it. I saw one person scraping something gross off his food that was not food. I ordered the eggplant parmigiana, which had many parts darker black than my car tires. I chipped off the burned sections and tried eating the rest, but it was the most repulsive eggplant parmigiana I ever had. It was so soggy, it could have been a soup. After pouring it out of the stainless steel boat they cooked it in and onto a plate, I notice the entire bottom was black and burned. Nasty. The salad was no better, just a small bowl of iceberg lettuce and a few pieces of tomato hardly worth mentioning, and for that they charged an extra $4.50 (an overcharge of a buck from their menu listed price).

    I was eager to forget this horrible dining experience, get up from the dark drab hole we were seated in, and get in my car in their worn down parking lot and leave, but that’s when I noticed the ‘insult to injury’. They had hidden $7 in the subtotal (and no it was not gratuity). Understand, they hand write their tickets, and do not use a calculator tape to show the math, which makes it easy to overcharge (purposely or not) a customer. Not only was I overcharged, but I was then charged tax on the overcharge. I held up the line with no apologies to have them run it on an adding machine, and they were embarrassed to find I caught them. No apologies from them, just defense for their waiter making a mistake in doing simple math. They cared more about their incompetent (possibly dishonest) employees than customers.

    After eating at the Cordova location about three times, this was about my fourth time trying them out. I thought maybe their main location would be better. Nope. It was horrible in all areas of dining. Now, I know what you’re going to say, but they are a Memphis landmark. That means nothing to me when I’m rating the dining experience and especially the food and service. I have tried them enough times now to know that they must have a cult following to continue giving them business when the food, service, prices, and atmosphere is as bad as I described. They are a complete waste of time and money to eat there. But if you want to support them just because they are a Memphis landmark, go for it. I just recommend you eat first and don’t expect much from the service.

    • Hi Eljay,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. It takes more than one review to get an overall feel of a restaurant. For the record, I do not eat at Pete and Sam’s because they are a Memphis landmark. I eat at Pete and Sam’s because every time I have gone in the last 25 years, I have had a great experience. The food has always been wonderful, the atmosphere festive, and the service very nice. Yes, the service has been slow. However, after my trip to Italy, I realized this was culture. Italians take several hours to enjoy their meals, drinking wine between courses, and enjoying conversation. To them, dinner is an event, it is the night out, instead of just a meal.

      As for your food, I am truly sorry about your experience. For the overcharge, I do know that Pete and Sam’s charges $7 as a corkage fee for bringing your own wine. I obviously don’t know if this was the situation with you, but it is something to consider.

      Sometimes people do not agree on restaurants, and I understand that. If you don’t like Pete and Sam’s, then don’t go back. I don’t care for some restaurants in Memphis that people seem to love. It takes all kinds, for both patrons and establishments.

      Thanks again for sharing.


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