In the News
Wednesday, May 29 2007
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Graduation gourmet: where to eat after commencement.
By Astrid Duffy

It's that special time when families come to town, and it's up to you to show off Tucson. Perhaps your normal food choices aren't up to the standards of your parents (Jack in the Box anyone?) and so you're looking for a fancier venue to celebrate commencement and stuff yourselves silly.

Caruso's Restaurant, 434 N. Fourth Ave.

This friendly and romantic restaurant is Tucson's little piece of Italy, conveniently close to campus. The sweet red and white checkered tablecloths and colorful outside lighting make Caruso's a wonderful place to celebrate any occasion. And who doesn't love Italian, when you can choose from a wide selection of pizzas, pastas and desserts? After the meal, you can even show your family what Tucson nightlife is like!

Recommended selections:

The Caruso Special, a combination of spaghetti, meatballs and ravioli.

Caruso Spectacular Pizza, with cheese, olives, mushrooms and sausage. Prices range from $9-15.

Classic Tucson Italian
Tucson Weekly

Caruso's continues to draw crowds with its warm service and inexpensive meals.By JIMMY BOEGLE

Francis Wick
A terrific place to noodle around.

I like all food genres (with the exception of those involving Brussels sprouts or Rocky Mountain oysters), but Italian is my favorite. The pastas, the sauces, the garlic--where can you go wrong?
Therefore, I was excited to check out Caruso's for the first time. It seems to be the town's best-loved Italian restaurant, if word of mouth and past Best of Tucson votes are any indication. What I had heard is summed up best by these lines from The Weekly's 1995 Best of Tucson.

Read entire article here.


Caruso's still keeps packing people in

There's no disputing Caruso's status as a Tucson institution.

The Italian restaurant, which opened in the late '30s and remains in the family, still attracts hordes of faithful diners.

There's a reason people stand in line to eat at Caruso's - it's consistent. In some cases, diners can order the same thing they ordered 30 years ago.

The menu was tweaked at the beginning of the year, said Sal Zagona, general manager. Of course, customer favorites remain - spaghetti, ravioli, meatballs, sausages and the Lasagne al Forno, which Zagona says has "probably been the No. 1 dish."

Plus, the large portions, the reasonable prices and the North Fourth Avenue location are difficult to beat.

But you won't encounter any surprising twists on the menu. Nothing's unforgettable. It's just good, solid food.

But, hey, many people like it that way. They enjoy tradition and don't want surprises.

In addition to the ever-popular Lasagne al Forno, the Shrimp Mediterranean ($9.50) has been a long-standing menu item.

Five extra-large shrimp from the west coast of Mexico - where Caruso's buys all of its shrimp - sat on a generous bed of al dente linguine and mushrooms. Flavors of basil, oregano, garlic and a bit of red, white and black pepper blended nicely in the light white wine sauce. Enjoy it with a piece of crunchy, warm garlic bread.

A bowl of soup, Italian salad or a side of spaghetti with Caruso sauce comes with many of the entrees.

The minestrone yielded a healthy-tasting soup chock-full of celery, zucchini, a variety of beans, carrot, tomato and barley.

Garbanzo beans, onion, cucumber, carrot, green olives, tomato and a few twisted noodles topped the mostly iceberg lettuce in the Italian salad. The Italian dressing provided just the right amount of flavor and didn't fade away into plain oiliness like some do.

Diners can sit inside or on the patio, where most of Caruso's ambience is. Multicolored lights are strung above the nicely spread-out tables, which makes for a quieter evening than in the dining room.

In the center of the patio, a large tank of goldfish, which Zagona confessed to falling into as a boy, still enthralls young diners.

But back to the food. Caruso's does baking well. Comfort-food lovers can't go wrong with the Vegetarian Lasagne and Eggplant Parmesan Combination Special ($9.50). The first bites into the melted cheese on the eggplant Parmesan had a slightly crisp consistency, but the eggplant underneath literally melted in the mouth. The lasagna was perfectly serviceable, with layers of red sauce, spinach, broccoli and mushrooms, covered with a blanket of cheese.

At $10.75, the Chicken and Eggplant, Sicilian style, is one of the highest-priced entrees on Caruso's menu. The baked pieces of eggplant looked like large potato wedges, until you bit into them and were rewarded with a savory burst of decidedly non-potato flavor. A large, juicy chicken breast that sat in the middle of the platter was smothered with red sauce and Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and sauce.

On some dishes, diners choose their own sauce. It can be tough to pick one, because there are so many - mushroom, Caruso, marinara, meat, butter and white-garlic mushroom.

Slightly rich for a red sauce, Caruso sauce is prepared with slow-cooked vegetables such as celery and onions that are then puréed and added to the sauce to give it body.

The marinara is a little more zippy, with garlic and chunks of tomato swimming in the sauce.

Desserts are recited by the wait staff. A piece of pistachio-topped cannoli for dessert was spoiled by the heavy-handed rum flavor in the creamy filling. Opt for the more unusual tortoni, a square of ice cream on top of a chewy macaroon crust. It's topped with almond slices, whipped cream and a cherry.



Caruso's Restaurant

434 N. Fourth Ave.


* Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m Tuesdays-Thursdays and Sundays; 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Mondays.

* Wine list: Mostly Italian and California varieties that range from $13.50 to $35.

* Family call: What's better than spaghetti or pizza as a kid? Bring them on in.

* Noise level: The inside can get loud. Try the patio for a quieter atmosphere.

* Vegetarian choices: Many.

* Dress: Casual.

* Reservations: Accepted only for parties of six or more.

* Contact reporter Valerie Vinyard at 573-4136 or


Copyright 2007 The Arizona Daily Star
Left side of the table bottom to top Bria, Bill McKinnon, Liam McKinnon, right side of the table bottom to top, Kate McKinnon,Evan McKinnon, Paul Schenk, have fun while eating on the patio of Caruso's, Wednesday September 12th, 2007 in Tucson, Ariz. 9/12/07 Photo by James S. Wood Arizona Daily Star